By Michael Gunther

It’s always interesting to me to see organizations or individuals reach a point when they stop learning and growing. Maybe the company achieved some success with a product or service. Or the individual has been praised so much for his or her abilities that he or she believes the point of excellence has been attained. I often see these same successful organizations and individuals begin a slow downward spiral because they believed they ‘made it’ and had nothing more to enhance or improve.

In the words of Mark Twain, “A stagnated mind dies. In life you are either moving forward or backward. Nothing stays the same.” Meaning that if you’re not moving forward by learning and growing, others around you are, and therefore you’re sliding backwards and losing relevance to your customers and your organization.

When was the last time you ventured out of your comfort zone? When did you push yourself or your organization to try something new, something outside your current capabilities or knowledge that would force you to develop new skills or create a new modus operandi? Fear of the unknown can be a huge deterrent and trap people from progressing. I would challenge you to use this fear as your indicator that it’s time to stretch yourself and take a leap of faith to try something new.

To assist with this process, I’ve created The 4 P’s of Successful Change: Planning, Participation, Perseverance and Patience.

  • Planning Before you take that leap, spend some time planning your course. What is it that you want to change? What are the intended outcomes? How do you plan to outline the process? What other resources or individuals should you include in this process? Answering these basic questions will lighten that fear of the unknown and add some direction to your new goal.
  • Participation It’s important to include others in your process of change. You might meet people who have the skill or knowledge you seek. It’s also proven that when you declare your goals to others, there’s a greater chance of accomplishing them. By sharing with your co-workers, customers and friends, they’ll routinely ask about your progress and in turn create a greater sense of accountability.
  • Perseverance Change requires clear direction, but likewise the flexibility to amend your course since the environment around us is always adjusting. True lasting change takes time. You need to be committed to your long term goals and dedicated to the path you create with the ability to be flexible along the way.
  • Patience Even positive change can add stress. Trying something new and venturing outside our comfort zones isn’t easy. So I ask you to have patience with yourself as you try new approaches and programs. I’m sure you’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s how individuals and organizations learn and grow.

The Bottom Line

Organizations and individuals must always be learning and growing. If not, they will suffer a slow death of outdated products, services, skills or process. I encourage you to identify the areas where you believe you are in a ‘comfort zone’ and begin developing a plan to push yourself and your organization to the next level of knowledge and performance.

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