As I look out my office window, I see the leaves on the trees are starting to change color. Believe it or not, I’m not shocked by this. Nor am I wailing about the fact that the temperature is dropping and that dusk is coming earlier than it did a month ago.
Am I superhuman? Perhaps, but not because of this. The simple truth is that, if you’ve been alive on the planet (Earth) for more than a few years, you start to recognize the patterns. You start to realize that summer ends and fall begins. Every. Single. Year.
In short, you start to realize that change is the natural order of things.
Why then, do we become apoplectic when change comes to our business?#Change is natural; why are we so surprised when it happens in our business? Click To Tweet
By the way, I realize that I’m using one of the most clichéd and hackneyed metaphors possible. (Look, the leaves are changing! Change happens! Change is good!) But I’m doing this for two reasons: 1) it’s happening right outside my window, so I can’t help but notice it, and, 2) sometimes we need to be hit over the head with the obvious.
Change is the natural order of things. The Big Bang was a big change. I don’t hear anyone complaining about it, though. Human life evolving, over millions of years, from single-celled organisms represents a change that I think we can all get behind. For that matter, I’m not at all unhappy that T-Rexes are no longer around to stomp on my tomato vines* and eat my pets (or me).
*Full disclosure: I don’t have any tomato vines.
Things change. That’s natural. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. What’s unnatural is the status quo.
And yet that’s where so many of us want to stay. And we’re shocked when it doesn’t happen.
We’re shocked when automation changes the nature of our industry. We’re shocked when the marketing campaign that worked so well last year underperforms this year. We’re shocked when the competition comes up with a product or service that changes the game.
We want things to stay the same.
Haven’t we learned anything? Haven’t we looked at the leaves? Haven’t we read any history book, ever? Haven’t we noticed that the onesie we wore as a toddler no longer fits? (And, even if it did, it might not be the best fashion choice.)
Look, I don’t know what business you’re in. But I can make a prediction about it, with 100% certainty:
Things are going to change.
Accept this. Anticipate this. And yes, even embrace this. Because it’s going to happen.
Part of your job as a leader is to be constantly asking yourself this question:
What might change in my business, and what will I do if that happens?
As a leader, what would you do if:
- a major supplier goes out of business?
- a major client changes leadership and drops your account?
- a catastrophe (earthquake, terrorist attack, celebrity divorce) devastates your industry or the economy in general?
- one of your key employees leaves?
I don’t want you to become paranoid. But I do want you to become realistic. Thinking, hoping, wishing that things will stay the same is not realistic.
The leaves change. The seasons change. And so will your business. Will you be ready for it?