Many years ago as I was running a folding machine, I bent over to pick up the next lift of paper, only to discover that I had two different shoes on. Clearly this was a sign I was in a rut and it was time for a change!
Even though I knew I needed a change, I didn’t know exactly what to do. So I did nothing…for a long time. I still liked many elements of my job and subconsciously there was some comfort in my daily routine. Resistance to change anchored me like a stone.
Shunryu Suzuki said, "Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure." Intellectually, we know everything changes. Yet the facts and our own experiences seem to indicate it’s our nature to resist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10,153 private US printing companies closed their doors from March 2003 through March 2013, taking 230,300 jobs with them.
That, dear reader, is what resistance to change will get you in business...printing, bindery or otherwise. As manufacturing expert W. Edwards Deming said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
In a recent Bindery Success Blog article we talked about the reasons why we are so resistant to change. This week we offer a few simple suggestions on how to counteract resistance.
1) Make small changes. Instead of saying "I'm going to organize the entire shop" say "I'm going to take five minutes a day to start organizing the folding machine work area." Five minutes of anything is easy and you're more likely to stick with it. Most importantly, you've actually made a change and overcome inertia. In time this five minutes a day will seem normal. When that happens you increase it to ten minutes. And so on.
2) Find the joy in the new activity. Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net says that to succeed at change, this is one thing that must always be done. If you hate a new activity, you'll never be able to sustain it. Either find the joy in it (being grateful helps) or find a new activity that you can love.
3) Make the new change part of your current life. Tie a new change to an existing habit. For instance, if you are going to start reading those bindery equipment manuals 5 minutes a day, do it while you are having your regular morning coffee. Or tie it to any another daily routine. It’s far more likely to stick when you tie it to an existing habit.
4) Accept failure. In Ready, Fire, Aim, author Michael Masterson talks about how successful businesses have learned that they must fail faster. In other words, they accept failure because it is inevitable. The sooner you get the failure out of the way, the sooner you get to the successes. As a salesperson, I used to tell myself that every “No” brought me one step closer to a “Yes!”
This same acceptance of failure applies in our personal lives. While I was still running bindery equipment, I decided I wanted to learn how to do electronic troubleshooting. I thought it could be a ticket to a better job. So I signed up for an electronic engineering course at the local community college.
Hah! The youngsters in that program could design circuits in their sleep. They spoke an other-worldly language about circuit logic that made my head hurt. And they did it for fun. I finished that course but immediately chalked this up as a ‘fail.’ This was not my destiny and the failure moved me in a different, better direction.
5) Get an accountability partner. Tell someone about your change and ask them to check with you weekly. If for instance, you are the bindery department manager and you’ve decided to organize your area, tell your boss and review your progress weekly. When you announce something to the world, the world has a way of moving things along!
6) Keep it in the day. Don’t worry about tomorrow or get upset about yesterday. Focus on just one small thing a day and you’ll be surprised at how much change can happen. Change only happens right here, right now, this moment.
7) Get started. It sounds simple-minded to say it, but it is true. You must simply get started. If you are having trouble starting, then think of a change that is small enough for you to do today. Even something as small as announcing your plan to another person is a start. When you keep the change small, it’s easy to start, and easy to move on to the next item the next day.
You probably noticed these are all very personal. That's for good reason. As much as you might want to, you really can't change other people.
If you are in a leadership role you can tell others what to do but that will not change their attitudes and feelings, especially if they are negative. A great leader will have others happily hopping on board for an exciting journey. It’s been my experience that positive personal change and the ability to deal with a world changing around you is the only way to have an authentic, lasting impact on others.
If you are a staff member searching for professional development, it starts and continues with personal change. Your daily small actions over time will improve your job performance and will change how others receive you and perceive you. In short, you become more valuable. Whether employee or owner, the bottom line is that we all get paid for the value we deliver to others.
When we swallow change in small daily doses, we see that the only thing we should truly fear is our resistance to change and not the change itself. The good news about the BLS numbers above is that there are still 30,000+ printing businesses out there who are rolling with the changes.
Now, about that problem with the shoes. Turns out I’d been wearing a mis-matched pair for weeks and no one said a word. Guess I wasn’t the only one in a rut!
Have a story or tip to share about getting out of a rut or overcoming resistance? Feel free to share below. (There is a slight delay for moderator approval.)