Is CHANGE possible in our DARKEST hour? Part 1 of 2.
For those in a leadership position, regardless of whether you are a team leader or an executive officer, it can be a tough job in the current changing environment.
Culture issues, bullying allegations and mental health-related injuries are becoming commonplace and leaders are expected to be able to deal with them.
Bullying allegations in particular, are difficult to manage.
I have mediated and facilitated bullying allegations from staff members against their peer(s) and/or direct manager(s). In fact, I have been on the receiving end of disproven bullying allegations whilst implementing strategies that included restructures.
I have also walked away from well-paying jobs to put my family’s and own personal welfare first because the working environment and business culture was so toxic, that it started negatively affecting my mental wellbeing – all during the peak of my career.
Don’t get me wrong, it is never an easy decision. The usual emotional thoughts ran through my head including, how am I going to pay the bills and provide for my family. Will I find another career that pays as well or am I getting too old to make such decisions?
Walking away is risky – but is there a greater risk in not changing direction in order to feel like you have a say in how your story unfolds?
Continue reading to see how I have turned what appeared to be career suicide decisions in one of my dark moments, into a life-changing opportunity.
It might just be the inspiration you need to make a change that you have been contemplating but haven’t been brave enough to take action.
Let’s put that into Context
I am of the belief that sometimes, it takes a life-storm like the ones above, to bring us to the realisation that something is not well, and that change is required. My experience has shown me, that life-storms come in different shapes, sizes and can happen at any stage in our lives – even multiple times. (You can read some of my other personal stories here and here.)
There are many reasons why someone would end up in a life-storm, but I believe that one of the biggest contributing factors in recent times, are due to changes taking place at work.
Within that context, I’ve seen over the span of my career thus far, that technology has been a major trigger. Specifically – the impact on people’s mindset as they view technology as a threat.
The use of terms such as digital disruption and disruptive technologies to describe how artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can help companies become more efficient and more profitable, have intensified in recent years. (To read my article on the Future of Work and AI, click here)
That’s great news for business owners and companies; after all, businesses are created to make a profit for a purpose aren’t they?
Logically, unless a business remains profitable, it cannot pay staff wages, right?
We also understand that the basic principle of business is to – increase sales or cut overheads – everything else is detail. Nevertheless, it’s in the detail where businesses and their leaders come unstuck.
Having formulated and implemented numerous strategies, I know first hand that it doesn’t really matter how well (both commercially and logically) a strategy has been devised.
Unless the majority of staff within an organisation has been emotionally prepared for the change, it will fail or take twice as long to implement, costing more money and emotional toll.
Often, people will have already identified the change as a threat – therefore, it doesn’t matter how logical or commercially viable the strategy is. Their reptilian brain has taken command and won’t pass the rest of the details to the logical brain for further analysis. (Keep an eye out for my next article about how the brain works).
Then worry starts to set in, and thus begins the implementation of their survival strategies that may eventually lead to depression if not addressed. (To read my article on “Why some people appear to cope better with change than others” – Click Here)
The Emotional Impact
You don’t have to be an expert to see that mental health is a serious issue currently with depression being one of the most common mental health issues sighted. There are many different opinions about what it is and why it happens.
My research into the topic shows that “psychologists usually categorise depression into two types – minor and major. Minor (like a sad mood) is viewed as adaptive and functional while major is considered to be non-adaptive and dysfunctional. If left untreated, that sad mood will lead to major depression” as noted by Hannah Parvez in her book Depression’s Hidden Purpose.
Think about it, have you ever ignored a tough conversation that you knew you should have with someone? Perhaps you didn’t like the way they spoke to you or you assumed that they would do something for you to show that they had your best interest at heart but didn’t.
Rather than taking the risk of being uncomfortable in that moment to fix the problem, you ignored it – which makes you feel even worse and you become even more agitated and angry. Sound familiar?
The brain progressively increases the intensity of our sad mood every time we ignore it, as a way of telling us to take corrective action. If we ignore the warning signs (our feelings) long enough, our brain will eventually ensure that the only thing we can focus on – is the problem we’ve been ignoring. Bang – Depression! “According to psychology, “depression’s purpose is to force us to re-evaluate our life and to make strategies to change our situation” (ibid).
I get that the actions we take will of-course depend on the context of the situation. However, reflecting on our storms and darkest moments will build our resilience every time we are faced with them. And we will adapt to the changes that life throws at us quicker. We will cope better and remain in control.
So how do we do that? Read Part 2 of this article where I share 7 strategies on how to build resilience and embrace change as a normal part of life and hear the rest of my story.