by Paul Casey

When Change is the Hardest

turbulence_600_1I dislike flying in airplanes. My wife is giddy about it. She holds my hand as my knuckles turn white whenever there is turbulence since I have motion sickness. So, last week when flying (pretty smooth flights, actually), I could see a parallel between turbulence in the air and trying to make a change in your life or organization.

At take-off or the beginning of a change-effort, there is a lot of speed and momentum, as the new idea lifts off the ground and tries to become the new normal. The plane and strategy slices through the air and rises higher and higher with exhilaration.

But the time when I’ve noticed the turbulence is the worst is in the time between lift-off and cruising altitude. That’s when the clouds and weather patterns rock the plane and mess with the leaders trying to implement the new change effort, seeking to de-rail it. It’s the toughest to hang in there at this time, but perseverance is necessary.

Then, at cruising altitude, they bring the beverage cart, and everyone settles into the change effort, seeking to incorporate it into the culture.

The second time turbulence seems the hardest to deal with is when autopilot is turned off and the descent begins. You have gotten very far in your new initiative and trying to make it permanent or bring it closure–and again the weather, or nay-sayers, buffet the plane as you start to see the finish line. If you can endure and keep making the adjustments mid-air, the runway to landing the project is just up ahead–and your efforts will produce the outcomes you are after.

I breathe a sigh of relief as the plane bounces onto the runway, the journey completed. Now it’s time to celebrate all the people who made the flight, or initiative possible–your team or partners who got you through the rough air.

What stage are you at right now in changing your life or organization–and are you experiencing this typical change process? At least you know what’s coming!



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