Have you noticed how much more frequently we’re being challenged to reinvent ourselves? I met with a friend recently who has spent the better part of her career in radio as an on-air personality. “Radio is dying and the young kids simply don’t listen so those of us who love it are scrambling to reinvent the way we interact with an audience,” she said.
It reminded me of the typesetters watching their world morph from lead type to computer-based print production a couple of decades back. They were forced to evolve or lose their livelihoods. We’re getting better at adapting quickly to our changing world as we must if we are to thrive.
We tend to think of reinvention as scrapping everything and starting from scratch, which is sometimes necessary, but I'm talking about a gradual, continued effort at polishing and tweaking to create a series of masterpieces that are perfect for their time, then make a great template for creating something new.
In watching clients, friends, and people who are good at adapting, I’m noticing that:
- People who embrace change and roll with it enjoy the journey more with less stress and worry
- Sometimes we hold on to old ideas or ways of doing things not because they’re better but because they are familiar.
- Resisting inevitable change is not only futile, it’s exhausting.
- Often, once we accept the idea of the new technology, new avenue, new anything, we find we really do like it better.
I’m not a big advocate for change just for the heck of it, unless the boredom of it is draining your energy. If something is working really well and filling an important role in your life or business, then leave it alone.
If you would like to develop a more nimble mindset and way of responding to changes in your business and the world in general, here are ten skills to put into practice, a little at a time:
1. Maintain a steady foundation. Keep an awareness of your core values, dreams and principles top of mind so that you know right away if something is a match to those deeply held beliefs and the things that really matter to you. You might take a look at your vision and values once a month or so to keep them fresh in your mind. This foundation will provide a stable, steady platform from which all decisions are made.
2. Become a master at managing your energy. If you watch the major players with any sustained success in sports, entertainment, business or any field, you will notice they are masters at maintaining energy. The way they accomplish this is they have two modes they always operate from: preparing for an event or participating in it. While participating, their energy is high and serves them well, because part of the preparation is in taking excellent care of themselves and resting so that they have stamina for the event. Ask yourself often, “am I steadily building energy for the next important event in my life?” Then treat yourself to whatever you require to regenerate.
3. Acknowledge emerging talents and skills. With every new experience, we are gaining new abilities, talents and skills. Keep track. Update your mental inventory of newly-acquired abilities. You are better, smarter, more savvy this year than you were five years ago. Keep upgrading your self image so that you draw upon the new strengths you’ve added.
4. Brainstorm with others. By sharing ideas with new people we are able to see multiple points of view, which is nurturing to our creative minds. We can get complacent looking at our businesses from the same old tired perspective. It’s helpful to see through someone else’s lens at times. You can do this through mastermind groups, meetups, Biznik events or simply invite new people you meet to a coffee where you share ideas with each other.
5. Make new associations between ideas. Take a look at a magazine for an industry other than yours and look for transferable ideas. I noticed recently when doing some research for a startup non profit I’m working with that there is a lot of similarity to fundraising for them and business sales strategies—they are both about building long-term relationships. The way the material was presented, however, I’ve never seen framed quite that way in a sales magazine or book.
6. Practice being the observer. Go to an event or gathering with the intention of being a keen observer and jot down what you noticed as soon as you leave the event. When you go with that intention of being open to simply noticing what draws your attention, you will be amazed at the insights you will gather.
7. Mindmap until you are really good at it. Start with a full sheet of copy paper and pen. Draw a circle in the center about the size of a half dollar, which represents the topic you are mining for ideas. Out from that circle, like spokes on a wheel, draw lines. On each of these lines write the different thoughts that come to you, relative to the central issue. You can draw more lines from those lines, like branches on a tree. If a particular line of thinking intrigues you, start a new page with that idea in the center and continue.
8. Take baby steps into new things. If you are curious about a new product, method or group, see if you can meet with a friend who has the product and have them share with you the features they love. Try one aspect of a new method to see how you like it before jumping in fully. Visit a group a couple of times before committing to anything permanent. By taking the sting out of trying new things (not risking money or commitment too early) you will be more willing to experiment. I’m a member of Toastmasters, and each club I’ve visited has a different energy, different feel even though our structure is very similar.
9. See with fresh eyes. Talk with friends, family, colleagues and clients with the intention of listening in a way that allows you to see ideas anew. Not only will you build better relationships, you may come away with a new perspective on an issue or person that will lead to broader understand and better solutions. Ask yourself, “how would I see this differently if I were standing where they are as a young mom (or retiree, or teenager, etc.)?”
10. Be willing to learn from anyone. I’m so used to helping business people work out their challenges that I was surprised recently when our daughter challenged me to a two-week detox diet of no processed sugar, no dairy, no beef, no fried anything. (as a former Texan this was a big challenge!) I was willing. I was not prepared, however, for how much of an impact those changes would have on my physical state. It’s been a month now, and I’ve benefited immensely from this challenge. I plan to carry it forward from now on, to some degree because I feel so much better, more energetic and healthy. Thank goodness I was willing to take a lesson from my child.
When we reinvent ourselves a little at a time, tweaking here and there those things we see can be improved, it doesn’t feel quite so daunting. This life we are experiencing can be a wild ride sometimes, and that is what keeps it interesting. Hold on to your values, ideals and dreams, and be willing to let go of those things that have become outdated and cumbersome. A more perfect model is always coming your way.