Your Change Support Team.
People who successfully navigate change are not alone. They surround themselves with people who can help. And they create an environment that supports their change.
When we go through change, one of the first things we feel is alone. "I am the only one going through this, no one has ever felt this bad, no one has had these three changes to deal with all at once...." These types of thoughts are very common. Many of us retreat. We don't want to reach out and share what's going on, let alone ask anyone for help. Our biggest flaw is that we keep thinking we are alone and that somehow we have to figure this out by ourselves: how to deal with a company falling apart because the market has changed; a parent with Alzheimers, a diagnosis, or a pending divorce. Somehow, we think our situation is unique. Very few of us are comfortable with the words, "I need help." It's as if these words are weak and yet both personally and professionally, they are a huge sign of power, self-esteem. When was the last time you said those words? Everyone of us gets through a change or a tough time because someone is there for us, closing the gap, cheering us on, showing us the way.
Who is on your change team? Usually it's not your parents, spouse, or even your closest friends. They all seem to be a bit concerned when you are going through your changes, they prefer to not see you shaky or heading towards the unknown. And yet, most of us turn to these people for approval, help and permission of some sort. Don't. Pick who you share your changes with. Many times, it's someone you don't know as well, or even someone brand new that might come into your life to help with a specific change. That's normal. It's not disloyal. When you're making or facing a change, ask yourself if there's someone around you that has been through a similar change? What type of people do you have around you? Remember, the five people you spend the most amount of time with have the biggest influence on every aspect of your life, the job you have, how much money you make, your weight, whom you date, if you smoke and so on. Who are your five people? Are they optimists? Do they want you to change? Who should be on your team?
When you are asking for help, remember these two words--Honesty and Specificity. You can receive quality help only if you are being honest about what's happening for you. Be honest about the addiction. Be honest about the trouble in your relationship. Be honest about the problems at work, whatever they may be. Next, be specific about what kind of help you need from someone. Do you need financial help, a trainer, a therapist, advice on how to get healthy, help on moving or finding a new revenue model? Don't just assume someone will know how to help or what you need. We are all wired to help each other. It's part of our DNA. We all feel our best when we are helping, contributing, doing something for someone else. Let people be there for you. Yes, even if it brings up some shame that you aren't perfect or have things under control. Watch the support roll in once you are able to be open, humble and willing.
There are really two types of friends or supporters that we usually have around us. Friends that get in the hole with us and friends that hand us a ladder and help us up again. The former are people who are compassionate, listen to you, agree with you, make you feel right, or even justified. These people are often loving and don't want to rock the boat. You need a few of those. But you also need what I call, Real Sources of Help, people who don't get in the hole with you, who don't let you rehash your story, don't allow you to be a victim, or blame, or be weak. People who call you on the truth, what you know, how to change something. These people can challenge you, which is why many of us avoid them. It's easier to hang with people who don't ask you why you still smoke, or why you've put on all the weight, or why you stay in a loveless marriage or a job you've been complaining about for years. Surround yourself with people who really do want the best for you and are committed to seeing you change a situation who may not be working for you. Basically, ask yourself, if the people around you return your power back to you, ask you the right questions, give you a safe place to land and to get unstuck, empower you, believe you can change.
People are essential during times of change, but so is creating the right space in which you live and work. Your actual physical environment can have a huge impact on facilitating change, whether it be in your team, a company, or your personal life. Look at the space you live in and work in. What's working for you and what isn't? What do you need to let go of? Remove? Add? What's missing? What doesn't represent who you are now, today? You have permission to change your environment, add a new color, a candle, a symbol, a trampoline, a photo, a plant, move the furniture, move homes, move offices. If you had no limits, how would you arrange your physical space to best support you? If it's at work, what changes can you make? Sometimes when you change your physical surroundings, your inner state also changes. Energy flows. Ideas come. New things happen.
Our lives are all connected to each other, and to other physical objects. It matters whom we surround ourselves with, whom we spend time with, whom we listen to and reach out to. When you change, the people around you change. You may want to change your actual space in some way.
And as a final note, who in your life is going through a change? A friend, colleague, your spouse, your child.... Believe they can change. See them already as having passed through the change. Offer them a safe place to land. Give them permission to do that. Listen and don't judge. Ask questions. Don't give answers. Be an example for them of what's possible, not a warning. When you change, you unconsciously give permission to others to change. When you encourage someone to make or face a change, you lift your own self in the process. Connect and stay connected.