Actually, change alone is not difficult. What we struggle with is our unfulfilled search for certainty.
The question of whether or not we as a community can thrive with change begins with an even deeper search into your life, can you dance with uncertainty? Can you live a life of completely void of all certainty, as this one is, and know, deep in your heart, that everything is going to play out as it will, good or bad. Searching for, hoping for, and dwelling in a life of certainty creates an illusion that we can control that which can not be controlled. So we grasp at certainty and as it slips through our fingers, we scream in anguish because we know change is a comin’.
Shareholders, employees, loved ones, and the little voice inside our heads all crave certainty, even in the face of overwhelming proof that certainty is a myth. This craving creates an environment that makes it increasingly difficult to say “I don’t know.” To put one’s hands in the air and admit, “ya know what? I have no idea what’s going to happen next, and that’s ok, we’re going to figure it out.”
The truth of change in all forms of leadership is that whether in an industry or a company or within themselves, one doesn’t know what the next step will bring (and sometimes even what is the next step). Some people shrink from change, others willingly or reluctantly go along with it, and still others drive it. Those that drive it are the most courageous leaders we have, because they’re helping us “be the change.” They’re not allowing us to wait for change to happen, they’re creating change in the way that is best for us. Some of us.
Courageous leaders who work on big change don’t start with “here’s what we’re doing,” they start with “here’s what we’re thinking.” And in order to properly understand what they’re thinking, they talk about what they’re thinking, and they tell others what they’re thinking. Each week time is spent finding and understanding new things about their work. And when something is better understood, they have a new foothold to help discuss how they were thinking about the change that is happening that week.
Storytelling is a powerful tool in these moments, to set context depending upon an audience, quickly reveal challenges, and shift into what these courageous think may be a first step, or 2nd, or 400th, on this difficult journey to change. Next week the challenge gets deeper, so it’s time to set and new context, one that might include last week’s challenge, talk of the new challenge, and reveal what a solution might be. When thought of in this context, it’s easier to imagine these weekly (daily, monthly) stories as footholds to propel the conversation and gain a better level of feedback and understanding, which in turn propels the work. Therefore using stories in our footholds to creating change, we’re able to create the most amount of impact simply by being intentional about how we’re crafting the way we talk about what we’re doing.
Business communication supposedly comes in many forms. There are tv, radio, and magazine ads, facebook, twitter, IG, the list is endless. But true back and forth communication and understanding rests solely on the back speaking to each other. Ghandi says to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” By finding new and impactful ways to talk about the change in our lives, it allows us to own and better understand the change, to let us live the change, to be the change. To let go of our need for certainty.
H/t to Tom Brennan for helping me properly formulate something that I’ve been working on for some time now.