In preparing to write this the first of my HR Musings, I found myself reflecting upon the journey of change I have recently embarked upon by becoming an entrepreneur. During the course of my reflection, one of my favourite quotes came to mind by the Chinese Philosopher Lao Zi “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
What a powerful statement and yet so true, all that is required to set in motion a life changing process is one step. A simple act in theory, redirecting our course in life which sounds so empowering and inspiring and yet in reality taking that first step requires enormous courage. I am certain that many of you reading this will have had at least one experience in life which has left you more than a bit hesitant to actively seek out change.
Ironic really when you consider that life itself is, after all, nothing more than a series of changes; maturing from child to adult, transitioning from student to worker, youth to old age etc., and yet the natural tendency for most is to resist change. As we mature, our experiences, unfortunately, tend to reshape our view of change making it more negative than positive, something forced upon us and not of our choosing. Our familiar routines become safe harbours providing us that much needed sense of security and change is merely an unwelcome detour on our carefully planned road map of life.
So, how then do we go about altering these negative perceptions of change which can hold us back from fulfilling our true potential and taking that important first step? For me it was about altering my view of change by drawing from Confucius, for example, who said “They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” By adopting this view of change, we open ourselves up to see the possibilities of what new directions our lives can take and what else we are capable of achieving. Change from this perspective no longer becomes about fate and the control of others, but places fulfillment and happiness at our feet. Life, therefore, is no longer viewed as a rigid road map getting us from A- B, but as a journey to be enjoyed and relished.
Of course, believing in oneself is key. However, there is also one essential component to effecting positive change which cannot be overlooked or underestimated. We must have either a person or group of people to inspire the belief in us that we are capable of more. I can honestly say that without the support of some truly remarkable people I would not be where I am today. Through their encouragement, I learned to look beyond, seeing the bigger picture and the possibilities that lay ahead. Thanks to their guidance, change for me became less about something ending and instead the anticipation of what is to come.
As business leaders our focus, therefore, surely should be about creating environments where individuals can self select purposeful change. Consider that favourite teacher of yours, the one who made you feel smart or that manager who made you feel valued, their contributions have no doubt had a lasting, positive impact upon your life. Helping people find their way to desire change is one of the most critical aspects of leadership and where I believe lay the greatest rewards. Positive change does not happen by accident, it takes committed leaders, willing to give of their time and talents to inspire others to do and be more. As Napoleon Hill so aptly phrased it “The starting point of all achievement is desire”, and in lighting the spark of desire, we create the potential for positive change and help someone take that critical first step.
As my journey continues so will my musings and I look forward to sharing with you again soon.