I once heard a saying that when one door closes another opens . . . but until then it’s hell in the hallway. Doors opening and closing are metaphors representing change. However there’s no discussion in these analogies about who is opening and closing the doors. Perhaps that’s where we ought to start our discussion.
I’m a pretty boring guy. I’ve been married to the same woman since 1974; lived my passion with the same company since 1975, and resided in the same house since 1978. But that’s where the constancy ends. Most of my business life has been about change and much of my personal life has been as well. Where some people see change as foreboding, I wholeheartedly embrace it. Why? Because I’ve generally found that change leads to bigger and better things – whatever they might be – and especially when I’m instigating the change in the first place!
As you might imagine, I’m going to suggest that how change impacts us starts with our mindset. Many see change as the start of a transition from one thing to another. Perhaps a broader view would be to see change as a transformation. To me, transitions are a bit mundane. But transformations are exciting and offer countless possibilities. Think about your own life. Do you want it to be a transition – almost plodding from one circumstance to the next? Or do you want your life to be transformed from something lesser to something greater? Assuming we only go around once in this amazing journey, don’t we want the experience to be as expansive as possible?
I’m not advocating change for change sake. But I am suggesting that seeing change as an opportunity for transformation has many inherent rewards. It inspires us to think much more creatively than we would if we are seeing change in a transitional manner. It nudges us out of our comfort zone which adds to the richness of our lives. It allows us to move past some of the fears that have been holding us back. And transformation immerses us in multi-dimensional options and alternatives from which to choose. Lest you think this is an exercise in the abstract, allow me to illustrate it in more concrete terms.
Let’s suppose that you are an entrepreneur with a product that has seen a steady decline in sales over the past few years. You sell other products that do fine, but this particular item just isn’t cutting it. Your team has pushed all the right buttons but the needle isn’t moving. The transitional approach might be to simply dump the product and move on. This would represent a change from the status quo – a sad, but common footnote in the history of products that eventually failed. On the other hand, a transformational approach might be to acknowledge the failure of the product, but to use it as a springboard to look at your overall product line from top-to-bottom. Could the same fate befall any of your other product items? Why exactly did this particular product fail? What is the lesson to be learned from its failure and how can that be translated into something positive for the rest of your products? In the end, this single product failure could become the catalyst for a complete transformation of your entire product offering, making your company stronger and able to gain additional market share.
Change can be viewed as a transition or a transformation. We make the choice to pick which path we want to follow.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.