Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Mastering Change

By now, you’ve figured out that ever-increasing change is here to stay. Moreover, it’s not likely that society will return to a time when the pace of life moves along at an even keel, or that what you learned yesterday will be good far into the infinite future. The reality of our times dictates that each of us be more fluid and more open to new procedures and systems for effectiveness in the workplace and beyond.

A fine observation, but what does it mean, particularly in terms of how you can be more effective in embracing the changes all around you?

1. Learn, Unlearn, Relearn

In his 1970 book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler told us that the traditional way of incorporating new information was to learn, learn more, and then learn more. The tasks before us, however complex, allegedly would be solved if we simply worked a little harder, studied a little longer, and applied ourselves more. Today, and I hesitate to use the word, that learning paradigm is gone.

As Toffler suggests, what’s necessary today is to approach your work and life from the perspective of learning, unlearning, and relearning. The next time you need to make a major software change, more fully embrace the concept of learning, unlearning, and re-learning let go of what you used to know. You’ll be far more proficient.

2. When Every Square Inch Is Taken

A curious yet predictable phenomenon occurs as virtually every square inch of the earth is trod upon and, perhaps, inhabited. The true meaning of economics kicks into place. Economics really is nothing more than the allocation of scarce resources. Until resources are scarce (i.e, there is no more land available) you really don’t have economic societies. The moment all land is taken up, you have scarcity. The price of things gets bid up. People are more concerned about conservation and holding on to things.

So it is in your life. All around you, you see resources and opportunities coveted by others — road systems are clogged, only a few people can make their way to the top of any organization, etc. Now add in the constant changes you face in terms of having to learn new software, new routines, new ways of approaching the marketplace, and new ways of serving constituents. You quickly see that living in an economic society, an era in which we’ll vigorously compete for scarce resources, adds to the pressure in your life.

The stress and anxiety people exhibit when competing for scarce resources, added to personal challenges and changes they confront, yields a scenario in which anyone is likely to feel overwhelmed. A key to mastering change now, and one that will grow in importance in the future, is maintaining perspective recognizing that relatively all career professionals are up against the same hurdles as you. They understand that this generation of professionals in particular is facing challenges unlike any generation before it. Those that succeed learn to be resilient. They understand that, at last, economics is at the root of all social interactions. They learn to compete effectively, or better yet, create a niche so as to reduce the need to compete. They also learn to take things in stride.

3. Situations Change Faster Than Your Physiology

The larger the challenges and changes you face, the more important it is for you to realize that human physiology changes very slowly. In fact, as a species we’ve been in progress for tens of thousands of years. Some people have the erroneous belief that they can somehow “save time,” read, walk, talk, and work faster than is comfortable for them. While this may temporarily result in your ability to master some changes currently confronting you, ultimately it’s a poor strategy for proceeding in work or in life. When you begin to change the rate of basic bodily functions, tumultuous results are predictable.

Some people sleep less, erroneously believing that that’s where they’ll pick up ground. Instead, they hamper their efforts to be effective rather than achieve any strategic, long-term competitive advantage. A better strategy would be to walk, talk, work, and eat at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Sleep the hours you need. When the tasks you face are mounting and the change confronting you seems overwhelming, seek to assemble the additional resources you need to remain competitive and productive, yet balanced and in control.

4. Educate Thyself on the Topic of Change

How many courses on managing change did you take in high school, college, or graduate school? You may have attended a lecture, a session at a conference, or perhaps a full day management seminar. You might be the type of person who clips an article or two. It’s not likely, however, that you’ve approached the topic of change with any formality. There are a number of excellent books on the topic. In many respects change is a process, and many authors have outlined processes which you can understand and apply. Here’s a short list of books (including some of my own) that people have found to be helpful:

  • Managing at the Speed of Change, by Darryl Conner
  • Managing in Turbulent Times, by Dr. Peter Drucker
  • Technotrends, by Dan Burrus
  • Breathing Space, by Jeff Davidson
  • Becoming Digital, by Dr. Nicholas Negroponte
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handling Stress, by Jeff Davidson
  • The Acorn Principle, by Jim Cathcart
  • Paulson on Change, by Dr. Terry Paulson

Simply reading about change on a regular basis helps many people to see it as a less anxiety-laden topic. In addition to the list above, here are some books with new perspectives about work and relationships that will increase your understanding of the changes around you:
  • Bringing the Best out in People, by Dr. Aubrey Daniels
  • The End of Work, by Jeremy Rifkin
  • Managing in the “C” Zone, by Dr. Robert Kriegel
  • The Platinum Rule, by Dr. Tony Alessandra
  • The Death of Competition, by James F. Moore
  • Maximum Success, by Brian Tracy
  • You’ll See It When You Believe It, by Dr Wayne Dyer
  • How To Have A Good Year Every Year, by Dave Yoho and Jeff Davidson

5. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

One of the secrets of mastering change and being effective in life is understanding that few things progress at an even pace. As author Brian Tracy says, most of the success you’ll achieve in life comes via the pattern of two . . .

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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