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Managing Change - To Change ... You Gotta' Change - by Ed Kugler

People change their entire lives but argue every time someone else wants to make us change. Think about it? Look back on your life and all progress comes from change. We talk about it, think about it, complain about it; then we dig our heels in when change is what makes the world go round. And it drives businesses crazy. So what do we do about this thing called change that everyone on earth whines about?

            The first step to changing your business or life is to accept, I mean really accept, that all progress in life comes from change but not all change is progress. What does that mean? It means that you have to look around and realize that every major breakthrough in life, such as medicine or science, has come with a break ‘with’ the past. Think about it. New medicines or vaccines, men on the moon, no one thought those things were possible so they had to let go of old thinking to create something new. They had to break ‘with’ the past to enjoy a new and changed future and so do you and your business.

            Okay that takes care of all progress comes from change but what about not all change is progress? We only have to look to Washington and our illustrious Congress to realize that when they make a change ninety-nine out of a hundred times it sure isn’t progress. The Bozo’s we elected as leaders make laws every day that are change but not progress.

            The second step is to say I am responsible. If I am going to change my life or my business it is up to me, no one else. It is not the fault of your father or mother or your boss that you are the way you are. Just take responsibility, accept no excuses and understand that if you are to change, it is up to you and no one else. For goodness sakes I saw a Marine Corp martial arts instructor on TV the other night with no hands … you can do what you desire if you will.

             The third thing is to begin by answering two questions. The first is what problem am I trying to solve? That means what are you trying to change? Don’t say I want to look better, feel better or change our department. Be specific. The second question to answer is what will success look like when I solve this problem? Again, be specific and don’t just fill up a sheet of paper wishing something will change.

I once counseled with the VP of an $8 billion company who asked if I could help. I said, what’s the problem? He spent two and a half days telling me he fundamentally wanted to change the way he delivered their products. I finally said, “If I figure out how to deliver your cement on helicopters it would fundamentally change the way you deliver but so what?” He slammed his fist down and said, “If I don’t take $2 dollars a ton out of our delivery cost I’ll be fired!” You see cost was the problem, the $2 was specific and that’s what I am talking about.

Once you get this far you’re ready for a change.

Start by looking in the mirror and being honest about where you or your organization is today. I mean brutally honest. You have answered where you’re going and what success will look like when you get there, now you need to have a stop kidding yourself day about where you are right now. Only then can you know how far you have to go to reach your change goal. This is what I call removing all of the BS. It’s not right or wrong, it just ‘is’.

By establishing where you are today you know how big the gap is that you have to bridge. Once you know the gap then you decide if you are willing to pay the price it will take to make the journey of change across the gap between where you want to go and where you are today. It is important to know if you will make the commitment before you make the leap of change. Otherwise you get discouraged and feel worse and if you’re trying to change an organization your people will spin wildly into the funnel of cynacism. Don’t let that happen to you.

After you know where you’re going and that you’re willing to pay the price to get there, sit down and make a plan. Your plan needs to be a realistic stretch. You need to stretch yourself and your people without forecasting heroism. Heroes just happen; you don’t build them in to a plan. Your plan must be doable or you’ll quit before you get started. You must be honest again, will you have the daily discipline to take the steps necessary to complete the journey from where you really are today to where you want to go. It’s not rocket science; you can do it by knowing you will either suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

The journey of change is as normal as the seasons we love to experience each spring and fall, but it’s easier ‘not to change’. Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It only matters that you know it is possible to change at any stage of the game. The steps above are simple; you don’t need therapy or a life coach or one of the big consulting houses. You need to want to change and follow these simple steps. And when you fail, dust yourself off, get up and get back in the game and keep making your way across the gap between what problem you are trying to solve and what your success will look like one honest, disciplined, sometimes painful step at a time.           

Ed Kugler has been living change since the jungles of Vietnam where he was a Marine Sniper for two-years in the Vietnam War. He came home to a country he hadn't left and began work as a mechanic and truck driver. Since then he has worked his way into the executive suite of Frito Lay, Pepsi Cola and Compaq Computer where he was Vice President of Worldwide Logistics, a position he achieved with no college degree. Ed left in 1997 to consult and write. He is the author of Dead Center - A Marine Sniper's Two Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War and five other books and counting. He regularly consults with some o the nations leading companies on organizational change and coaches individuals to make the most of their lives. Ed is the father of three, grandfather to three and has been married to the same woman for 38 years and counting. www.nomorebs.com  www.edkugler.com

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