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Steve Gilliland, a best-selling author and speaker at the SHRM 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition, offers up some astute advice on how to handle change in his new book,
Detour (Advantage Media Group, June 2015).
Q: In your previous book,
Enjoy the Ride, you tell people that it’s not how you start this life or finish it, the true joy of life is in the trip. What inspired you to write the sequel,
A: I have always believed that a truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. However, that is much easier to say than to practice. Just as failure is an inevitable, vital part of success, every detour is a critical part of your trip and allows you to exercise creativity and resourcefulness in order to move forward in ways you had not anticipated. I wanted to write a book on how to handle change in a fluctuating workplace and navigate life’s turns when something sets you on a course that you never planned, into a future you never imagined.
Q: Why do some companies struggle with change?
A: They don’t recognize the need to change. They fashion a culture that believes that nothing can slow them down. Companies have to create a culture that believes in change and that supports the philosophy that in order to compete, you must always be improving. Whenever you are winning, you always seem invincible. When you’re locked into a mindset that helped you succeed, it’s difficult even to think about the profound changes you’ll have to respond to.
Q: You use the word "mindset" when referring to how we can navigate life’s turns and deal with change. What is the key to doing that?
A: I talk about developing six mindsets in the book and discovering the three sides to every story and recognizing that hope is not a strategy. I’m an upbeat person who regularly encourages others to be positive and to never give up hope. But, according to my family, friends and employees, I’m also unrealistic. Basing my business strategies on hope is shortsighted and potentially ill-fated. My long-term strategic plan needs to be more grounded so my leadership team can determine an ambitious, yet plausible, direction. It’s been hard work, but I’ve broken some bad habits. I’m more practiced now at realistic thinking and have trained myself to view every situation in a better-rounded manner. Successful people tend to think positively and creatively, but may fail to see problems rationally or from a negative perspective. This can lead them to miscalculate the opposition and neglect to prepare alternate plans.
Q: A lot of people have written about managing change. Why is change so hard for people to accept, and what is one suggestion you can offer to help all of us?
A: Change is frustrating! I have come across many roads that were closed and have struggled to find a new path. However, what I have found is that you must recognize, embrace and take the detour. It is the only way to keep moving forward. The detours you will face can turn out to be very positive and fulfilling. There’s so much out there in our world, and sometimes it takes a detour to change our direction so we can experience everything life has to offer. You get a chance to meet new people, build new relationships and develop new ideas. The rewards are endless, especially if you are open to seeing the possibilities that exist. That is not to say that some detours won’t be sad, frustrating or even tragic. However, even those roadblocks can provide an opportunity to learn and grow.
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