Common Thinking Errors When Dealing with Change Series: Week 10


We are wrapping up our blog series on Change this week.  We have spent a considerable amount of time throughout the weeks on the “fight” aspect of the response to change.  In conclusion of this series, we are going to take a look at the other side of this, the “flight” aspect, specifically checking out emotionally.

Checking out emotionally is disengaging and disconnecting from the perceived conflict that comes with change.

Typically those that have “checked out” are unresponsive, challenged to focus on what is relevant, and are not listening to what is being said.  They are not fully aware of what is happening around them.  Therefore, their quality, efficiency and effectiveness are no longer in use.

A “flight” response doesn’t have to be apparent or visible to be destructive.  Just because you are not outwardly against the change does not mean you are not causing damage.  In fact, you could possibly be causing irreparable damage.

Checking out emotionally almost always leads to lack of effort, or at least the appearance of it.  The midst of change is probably not the best time to risk appearances in this regard.

The bottom line is this…. If you are worried about getting left behind, don’t leave!  Take the ride.  Conquer your fear by standing in the change.  You might be surprised by the results.

“Courage is about learning how to function despite the fear, to put aside your instincts to run or give in completely to the anger born from fear…”― Jim Butcher

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 9


Fear was the topic of discussion in last week’s blog.  We pointed out the importance of managing fears that are ignited by change.  More importantly, we discussed the need to recognize these fears as “real or perceived”.  When fears aren’t analyzed and categorized everything can seem like a fight.  In most cases in life and especially organizational change it is important to, “Choose Your Battles”.

Making the decision to engage in endless battles, whether internal and external, are going to get you nowhere. They are a waste of time, energy and resources.

Making sure your emotions are in check will be key in being able to decipher what is worth fighting for and what is not.  We have all heard the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”… exactly the point here. Choose the battles that you can impact and let go of those that you cannot.

This makes me think of a bad call in baseball. The 3rd strike is called on a pitch that clearly bounced in the dirt in front of the plate. You know it was not a strike and the umpire is wrong. The question is- what is to be gained by fighting with him? We all know an umpire is not going to change their mind; you are fighting a losing battle. There’s nothing to gain and often times plenty to lose.

The challenge in this is to not let your emotions get in the way of your logic. Are you committed to the “cause” or are you committed to the emotion?

“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s measured by your ability to make the best of what life has to offer.”          -C. JoyBell C.

If you are constantly fighting against the tide maybe it is time to reevaluate what is really taking place.  We suggest you make the decision to transfer your energy and use it on things that will help you find success.  The secret here is defining and redefining what success looks like to you.  After you have a clear picture of this, develop a logic-based strategy that will allow you to keep emotions at bay when choosing your battles.

You have time between now and next week to commit to the cause and find clarity in how you want to make decisions around choosing your battles.  If you do this, you will likely be a step ahead as we take on our final faulty thinking error- Checking Out Emotionally.  Choosing your battles is the first step towards keeping yourself connected.

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 8


Last week we examined how getting “stuck” in the place you have been, rather than trying to keep up with the new pace, will leave you out of sync.  We talked about the “fear” that keeps you in that place.  This leads us directly into faulty thinking error #7, FEAR.  Although, we might not be able to take fear out of the equation altogether…hopefully, we can help put it in perspective.

Often times, in transition and change we are terrified of being eaten by the proverbial bear. We are planning and managing around our “imagined” worst-case scenario. We stay hyper focused on the awful things that we perceive can happen, thus missing possibilities and opportunities.  Just think about the amount of energy expended in that!  This premise is affirmed in one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain, “I’ve worried about a great many things, some of which actually happened.”

I am reminded about a time we were hired by a client to do coaching for a couple of their employees.  These employees thought we were hired because they were doing something wrong and on the brink of being let go. This could not have been further from the truth. In fact, we were hired to support and expedite their journey to partner.   The “imagined” worst-case scenario caused a great amount of unnecessary unrest and fear.

It will be impossible to take the next steps if you are “rooted” in fears that are not reality and most likely will never become reality.

I implore you to look at the facts as they are.  Be mindful, be still and focus on things that are real.  Let go of the imagined threat.

The two most important components to being agile and adaptable to change/transition are:

1.) Managing your thoughts

2.) Managing your emotions

Here is something to think about before next week when we take a deeper look at “emotions”.  We are very much driven by how we feel, which originates from what we think.  Do you see the cycle perpetuated in this?

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 7


Controlling the Pace of Change- Week 7

Last week we left you with the challenge of defining what is “in your control” and what is “out of your control”.  This week we are going to give you one to put on the “out of my control” list, if it isn’t already there.  It is #6 on our list of thinking errors — controlling the pace of change.

The speed of the transition “is what it is” and the only impact you have in that is to choose whether or not you will keep up.  As it’s been bluntly stated,  “Catch up is harder than keep up”.

Don’t believe for a minute that you can hide if you are moving at a pace that is different from the rest of the pack.  Remember the Seinfeld episode with Elaine dancing?   If you have seen it you should have a clear visual of what it means to be moving at a different pace.  She is going to town, thinking she is the bomb! Her “pace” is so out of sync with the music.  The gawkers are watching in disbelief or maybe more accurately, horror.  The lesson in this is don’t be the one caught out of sync… the one the gawkers are watching!

One of the biggest fears, when there is organizational change, is the impact on jobs and positions.  If you want to safeguard your position, you need to be rounding the curves and corners in step with the expected pace.

What do the repercussions of not keeping pace look like to you?  Are those your biggest fears?  Should they be?  Think about it and we will talk “fear” next week.

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 6


Change Week 6 – Grasping to Control the Uncontrollable

Last week’s topic, “Playing the Game By the Old Rules”, and this week’s topic “Grasping to Control the Uncontrollable” pretty much go hand in hand.  Last week, we talked about moving with, instead of against, the changes. This week we will go a step further in recognizing the importance of knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em.  Thank you, Kenny Rogers.

All of us have heard the adage “Control the controllable”.   Well, we all know that is easy to say but much harder to do.

As human beings, we can tend to be a controlling bunch.  The “want” to maintain control is a typical human response, especially in change.  We somehow feel that if we are in control nothing bad will happen.

I once had a client who was particularly committed to continuing to do things the way he wanted to do them, no matter that the system around him was changing.

The thing is, this guy reminded me of a dog with a chew toy, holding on for dear life not willing to give up.  He believed that he was maintaining control, but the truth was, he was not going to win the battle. When things are seemingly spinning out of control, we often do all we can to grab at anything to stabilize the situation for ourselves.

The exercise in this becomes asking yourself two things:  1.) What is it I CAN control in the change…and embrace it.  2.) What is OUT of my control in the change…and let it go.

Take time to think about this before we hit you with thinking error # 6 (“Trying to Change the Pace”) next week and grab on to the things you CAN control like…your attitude, your effort, your willingness, your thinking…

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 5


Playing the Game by the Old Rules

Last week we ended by suggesting the pain of adapting was nothing compared to the pain of not adapting.  This is basically postponing tough times in exchange for even tougher times.  Put it off until it’s even bigger?  Where is the logic in that?

One of my all time favorite books is Marshall Goldsmith’s, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.  Simply stated the attitudes, strategies, skills and activities that brought you to this plateau of success are not necessarily the same ones that will move you to the next place.

It’s very likely the change you are in the midst of has come about because you have moved to a “new” position (think promotion here), the company you work for has moved into a “new” marketplace or has gone in a “new” direction.  I’ve purposely used the word “new” here, in that, recommending you look at whatever you find yourself in as “new”.

If you were starting a new job you would likely try to learn the new processes and way of doing business in the new organization.  It would probably be clear that walking around talking about how you used to do it at your old company or doing it that way would not go over very well.

I’m reminded of a department manager in a company that we have worked with for a long time.  They are one of the most successful companies in their industry.  Much of their success has been predicated on their processes and culture. This particular manager came from another company in the same industry, one that had not fared so well.  Over his entire 3-year employment, with the “new” company, he constantly said things like, “Oh well, I guess this is the way ‘you guys’ do things.”  He had been there for 3 years! When was he going to consider himself part of the ‘you guys’?  Unfortunately, he just never turned the corner.  For years we tried to help him shift his thinking and approach, and he would not budge.  The way he was doing things was not working.  His department continually underperformed in one of the strongest marketplaces in the country.  The company eventually made the decision to let him go.  He never quite figured out that more of what was not working was not going to work.

He always said he had things “under control”, which leads us to next week…Controlling the Uncontrollable.

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 4


Last week we talked about the roadblock of stubbornness in change.  We focused on redirecting our energies and embracing change.

This week, we are moving on to #3 on our list….the not so appealing “pity party”.

Posted on a wall in our office we have a hilarious poster that reads:

“Breaking News: The Pity Train has just derailed at the intersection of Suck it Up and Move On, and crashed into We All Have Problems, before coming to a complete stop at Get the Heck Over It. Any complaints about how we operate can be forwarded to           1-800-waa-aaah.”

How great is that?!

Few people, if any, are comfortable with organizational change.  In fact, you could say most of us hate it. The problem is we tend to personalize what is going on, rather than look at the big picture, hence the pity party.

In change, we tend to make the assumption that if we feel sorry enough for ourselves, others will join the party and feel sorry for us too.  We also make the assumption that if it weren’t for the “pain” of change, there would be no pain.

The big problem with this thinking is we focus on the loss and sacrifices as opposed to what we might be gaining.  What we need to see is that it is usually “pain” that precipitated and even caused the need for change.  The truth is, if we could just manage through the short-term “pain” of change, without the pity party, what would be waiting on the other side is gain.

The fact is…there IS going to be “pain”.  You can choose the pain that is going to keep you where you are or you can choose the pain that is going to get you where you need to go.

The question is:

Do you really have a choice?  If you think the “pain” in adapting is tough, try not adapting.

It’s a good point to keep in mind for next week when we talk about “playing the new game by the old rules”.

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 3


Last week we looked at the stress created in “change” and who’s responsibility it is to manage it.  We cautioned against getting derailed in the faulty belief that it is management’s responsibility to manage our stress. It is ours and it is up to us to manage it!

This week we are going to look at #2 on our list… the not so wonderful, little strategy of “Digging Our Heels In”. Being stubborn.

Will that ever actually work? How can we be effective in a changing organization without changing? Where will that get us?! Nowhere good…. It gets us to being ineffective and that is the biggest threat to anyone’s position.

The most important thing to know is this…. it’s something we can control. Why would you relinquish that?  I mean, come on… ride the horse in the direction it’s going. Go with the flow and with the direction of change.

What we really have to consider is that the emotional energy it takes to “dig our heels in” far surpasses the energy it requires to just embrace the change.

Fair warning next week- we are going to discuss the infamous Pity Party.

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series: Week 2


An organization going through change is in for an emotional roller coaster ride.  Let’s face it…. change is stressful and uncomfortable!

In that, I am reminded of a Mark Twain quote, “I’ve worried about many things in my life. Some of which actually came true.”

Exactly!  The majority of our stress is created by worry and thinking errors.  In our last post we listed the nine “Most Common Thinking Errors”.  Now, over the next several weeks, we are going to break them down…. one by one.

This week we will tackle: Managing Stress is Management’s Responsibility

We have heard many times, “If management really cared, they would do something about employee stress.” The mistaken thinking in that is, “if they make sure we are operating in our comfort zone, they must care.”  My first thought around that is… success very often begins exactly where our comfort zone ends.  In addition to that and maybe a more logical thought- by adapting to the marketplace, management is showing they care enough about the company and keeping as many people employed as possible.  This means making the generally unpopular decision to change, so it can survive and thrive.  If we think dealing with our stress is tough, think how management feels dealing with ours AND theirs, simultaneously.

The truth is… no one can control for us our thinking and our emotions; those are wholly owned by and therefore controlled by us.  It is not typically the “event” that causes the bulk of the stress but our response to the event.

Next week we look at our stubbornness around change.

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Common Thinking Errors Dealing with Change Series


I was speaking at a conference recently and during the Q&A I was asked how I thought a company could get their employees on board with change.  I was specifically asked which “change model” I advocated.

There are countless change models, many very good and comprehensive, but executing a change model is premature in the process. To facilitate change, you must first manage the emotions around it.  Whatever model a company chooses to execute will be fruitless while emotions are out of control.

Most often our emotions get “out of control” as a result of thinking errors.  Often our thoughts take detours based on the stories we make up about facts and events. These “stories” become platforms for our next decision or pattern of thinking. If the story is “untrue”/”unfounded” we head way off path and as a result, will have little chance of successfully navigating change.

Common Thinking Errors When Dealing with Change:

1. My Stress is Management’s Responsibility

2. Dig Your Heals In

3. Pity Party

4. Playing the New Game by the Old Rules

5. Grasping for Control of the Uncontrollable

6. Trying to Change the Pace

7. Fear

8. Not Choosing Your Battles

9. Checking Out Emotionally

Over the next 10 weeks we will begin examining each thinking error. For now, take a deep breath and stop making up stories!

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