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Change: Why you're more in control than you think

When faced with change we often focus on the uncertainty and lack of control. This article provides a reminder that some elements of control never leave us - we just need to remember to use them.

Perhaps it’s just me…but I think ‘change’ has a bit of a PR problem. Whenever the word change is used, one can almost hear the rattling of chains and the grim reaper lurking in the darkness.

It’s not too difficult to see where it all comes from. Most of us like equilibrium and uncertainty makes us feel unbalanced. However, that's not the only driver of change's PR problem. A brief glance at the business news section reveals plenty of headlines that suggest big change = big disaster. Whitepapers from big consulting firms often reinforce this message - “Death by Digital” is one of my favourite titles.

It’s little wonder that when change comes along, we feel a sense of anxiety before we even know what it’s about or what it all means.

Having led strategic change for way longer than I care to admit, I know there are times when it feels like a roller-coaster hurtling through the dark. Not only that, sometimes it feels like the roller-coaster is coming off, or worse, has come off, the rails.

Feeling out of control doesn’t feel good and unfortunately, when we’re going through change, it’s something can happen quite often.

So what can you do about it?

You may be familiar with Reinhold Niebuhr. If you don't recognise his name (and I didn’t), he’s the guy who said “…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. It’s a great philosophy, and when it comes to strategic change, it's worth remembering that many elements are outside our control, but not all of them. In fact, one of the greatest tools available to us during change, is 100% in our control and it's there, regardless of the change we're facing.

It’s our mindset.

More specifically, it’s the mindset we choose to adopt when a change first hits our mental or emotional radar. How our inner-voice responds in those first few seconds, makes a significant difference to what actually happens next and, influences the overall outcome.

So, next time a change registers on your personal radar, I’d like you to conduct a small experiment.

Take a moment to listen to the voice in your head and what it’s saying to you. Does it dismiss the change and come up with reasons why it’s not relevant or important? Does it react without thought and drive an unhelpful behaviour that leads to a sequence of unfortunate events? Alternatively, does your inner-voice adopt an attitude of curiosity, eager to understand more, before making any judgement (ie. deciding if the change good or bad).

The first moments of change determine its initial trajectory. When we prematurely judge the change as ‘bad’ it closes our mind, such that when opportunities do arrive, they’re likely to pass us by.

I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you for reading and please remember to share this article with those who'd value its insights.


Kate Christiansen helps leaders reduce the change-friction in their organisations and remove the barriers that prevent strategy delivery. Other articles include:


Kate Christiansen has spent over two decades adapting complex organisations to strategic change and she is the author of the award-winning book "The Thrive Cycle: Unlock the Adaptive Organisation Within". Kate is a mentor, facilitator, director and advisor who helps leaders tackle the change-related challenges that stand between them and strategic success. Kate's "Leading at the Speed of Change" Executive Mastery program increases an Executive Team's ability to individually, and collaboratively, lead change and successfully deliver its strategy.


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