Everybody has experienced trials and tribulations in their lives. The last three years have been challenging. The only question is how did we react to them? Did we learn and grow as a consequence or did it knock us flat on our back and leave another failed project lying in the dust.
What I hope to share with you is idea that crisis can be used as a positive catalyst to change. We can use robust solid evidence to support this view from three exemplary pioneers who have all contributed to the idea as to the dynamics of successful change.
Shift in thinking
Firstly, we can revisit the work of Thomas Kuhn, with his landmark research on the Structure of Scientific Revolution, He discovered that progress was not linear, but rather a paradigm shift in thinking. Crisis was the driving force because the old rules no longer fit. And who can doubt that this principle applies to business today?
Secondly, Ilya Prigogine a Noble prize winner discovered that self organising systems reach a level of complexity that causes crisis. At this stage the system does one or two things, it upgrades itself to a higher state of complexity or it collapses into chaos. Some businesses have succeeded in moving on and are flourishing. However, many have collapsed into chaos.
Lastly, the work of Robert Kegan and his breakthrough book Immunity to Change has demonstrated how difficult it is to change with our present level of thinking. His argument is rather persuasive. Seven out of ten cancer patients when told they must radically change their lifestyle or die do not have the core competencies to affect the changes necessary. Kegan demonstrates we need to dig deeper and find the competing hidden goals that hold us back. The good news is when we can bring these hidden saboteurs to the surface we are well able to make the changes. The essence of Kegan’s work is that we can change our operating system. We can make the paradigm shift from reactive to creative. We can move to a higher stage of development. We can reach a much higher state of effectiveness.
Unless we learn to adapt we will continue to oscillate from one crisis after another. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed several times before they cracked the code and stopped the reactive orientation.
Driving the business forward
They learned a new mindset; they now leverage a crisis, adapting and using them as a catalyst for positive change. Their emphasis is on directing all of their energy and new found collective wisdom on inner directed actions that move them forward to their vision. We should use Pareto’s 80/20 law and spend the bulk of our time creating products and services that add real value to our clients. However, the vast majority spend most of their efforts on fire fighting and only a small amount of energy creating generative ideas that drive the business forward.
We need a quantum leap in mindset mastery to learn how to transition from the unproductive reactive mode to a more effective state of functionality that comes from our innate creative ability. We need to resign from the 4am worry club and join those who have restructured the operating system. Inspirational effective leadership is now a strategic imperative. When faced with challenging circumstances we need to pause, not react. Deep change needs us to really seek clarity about what it is we want. For example, what I want it to be able to help entrepreneurs transition from Micro to Macro, to move from a reactive orientation to creative individualist. This paradigm shift will help people move to flourishing, thriving and sustainable growth. This produces a win-win situation for all.
More from Joseph Geraghty over at www.schoolofmastery.ie