Being Capable of Changing is an Essential 21st Century Skill
Humans are not hard-wired for change. Or, put differently, we are capable of changing, but we are often bad at it. As we have seen in recent years, we are living in a time of constant change, and that change is likely only going to increase in frequency and speed. Understanding this, it is increasingly important for individuals and organizations alike to become more capable of changing and — hopefully — even enjoying it. They must become more change-capable.
In this article, we briefly summarize an article Proteus founder, Erika Andersen, wrote on the importance of “Becoming Change-Capable” in today’s modern society. Understand more about Proteus’ perspective on change, and what you can do to become more change-capable.
Homeostasis: The Age-Old Desire to Maintain What’s Normal
Historically, homeostasis — a kind of dynamic stability — has helped people stay regulated and comfortable. We have always been capable of changing, but we do it primarily to maintain our baseline. From automatic bodily mechanisms like shivering to external forces like adding layers, we are hard-wired to find and maintain what is most comfortable.
This desire for maintaining homeostasis — for avoiding change — has allowed us to survive for thousands of years, and remains with us today. However, as advances in communication and technology accelerate and impact our lives and societies, the same deeply-wired preferences that served us for thousands of years are no longer as helpful as they once were.
A 21st Century Shift Toward Change
In today’s society, change occurs more rapidly — almost continuously. As soon as we adjust to one change, we face another. It is a constant drumbeat of change, adapt, repeat.
In this new reality, our age-old instinct to maintain homeostasis only serves us some of the time. We may benefit from homeostasis physiologically, to maintain our body temperature, but organizationally, maintaining homeostasis is no longer meeting our needs. Rather, we need to learn to become comfortable with and capable of changing.
We call this being change-capable, and it starts from the inside from our mindset and radiates out to our choices and behavior.
Change from the Inside Out
At Proteus, we use the Change Arc to illustrate how changing from the inside out works.
When change is proposed, each individual in the organization must first understand and connect with the proposed change — what it is, why it is necessary, and what the company will look like once the change is implemented.
Individuals must make a mindset shift to begin their change from the inside out. Rather than viewing the change as negative, which will lead to dismissal or avoidance, we must view the change as necessary, and ideally as positive. This will lead to more belief in the change and facilitate its institutionalization.
Behavior change follows mindset change. Once we understand the change more deeply, we will become more capable of changing our behaviors. As we adopt new behaviors to align with the change, we will make the change more viable for the entire organization.
At that point, the change begins to occur. We integrate the change as the new normal, working from the inside out. Every successful change, no matter how simple or complex, follows the Change Arc. Leveraging it organizationally makes people feel part of change vs. feeling like change has been dropped on them. When individuals are supported in being more change-capable, organizational change happens more rapidly and smoothly. It’s a muscle built for future changes that will inevitably come.
Change is the New Normal: Being Capable of Changing
Someday, you’ll wake up and realize that constant change, the constant change that once gave you anxiety or hesitation, is a new normal that can be mastered even when unanticipated. Instead of expecting things to stay the same, you’ll be confident and capable of changing as you continue to grow and evolve. In fact, you may even enjoy the process of adapting to change.
You will have become change-capable.
Read more about homeostasis and change from the inside out from Erika here. Once you’ve started your journey to change from the inside out, Proteus’ Transformation experts can support you, your team, or your organization to be more change-capable.