Want to see highly educated professionals suddenly become afraid, just say “we are changing…” in a meeting. I have always found this reaction interesting. Why do teachers find change so intimidating? Why do emotions run so high when change is coming down the pipes? Is it because people see change as a chance of failure and not an opportunity for growth?
These questions have always been in the back of my mind and have always intrigued me. Ultimately, we need to change to become better. Our students depend on us being innovative with new strategies and up to date with research and promising practices. I have always seen change as an opportunity to grow as a professional but also personally as well. Stepping out of that comfort zone and embracing change is the only way to reach excellence, which I am 99% sure that is what everyone wants. We all want to be excellent at what we do.
So how do you implement change? No matter what the change might be (losing that weight you put on over Christmas or redirecting the culture and climate of a school/program) you need to have two key qualities: the VISION to see the ultimate destination and plan for it and the PATIENCE to stay the course and to follow that vision of change. One does not work without the other.
I’m a huge fan of backwards by design planning, you need to have a clear image of what you want to achieve and have a way to evaluate the process. You need to think big but plan small because change does take time. It’s almost like building a house, you need to have the foundation in place before building the walls, have strong supports to place the roof on and only then can you start on the finish touches on the interior.
To help with the building of the foundation, you need to have a team who share your vision and understand the blue prints. Without this, there will be confusion among your team and confusion leads to frustration. Professional need to know and understand why the change is happening, how it will happen and what the ultimate end result will be. They also need to be a key contributor to the planning process and given a sense of ownership in the process. When there is that clear understanding and that sense of ownership, continuing with your vision of change suddenly becomes much easier.
We would all love it if change can happen over night. The reality is that for sustainable change to happen you need to acknowledge that it is a long process with successes and failure along the way. Maybe this is why change is such a terrifying concept, you are opening up to experience failure and most people are not okay with that. Surrounding yourself with these “movers” who share your vision and embrace the process is crucial to creating sustainable change. This could be your #fitfam at the gym or a team of selected individuals who are in it for the long haul.
Part of patience is being ready to experience setbacks in the process. Change, just like learning, rarely happens on the first try. You have to be willing and open to experiencing these setback and ready to reflect on them. Patience is KEY at this point because this could take a bit of time and potentially increase your timeline for change. The reflection piece is crucial because its an opportunity to take a look and evaluate why things have happened and how it can be improved on in the future.
I know what you are thinking, that this is an over simplification of bringing change. My response is why does change have to be complex and complicated. Keeping things simple is a great way to keep focused on what you actually want to change. When things are complex we tend to lose sight of that vision and our ultimate goal.