Dealing with the changing world around us has become a key skill for every entrepreneur

Yes, constant change is the new normal! In my book, Die Veränderungs-Formel: Aus Problemen Chancen machen (The Change Formula: Turning Problems into Chances), I put forward the theory that the successful handling of the ever-accelerating change is going to be the most important key competence of the future. Since then, a few months have passed and a look at a newspaper of your choice (or the online version, if you prefer that medium) is enough to see how much my statement has hit the mark. Society is changing, the world is spinning faster and permanent change has become a daily companion. The rules have changed and values have shifted. What was the standard yesterday can already be outdated today.

Change is the new normal: But are you prepared to change?

In my job as a keynote speaker and change consultant, I work in the most diverse companies and different industries. And there is one question that I get asked over and over again: “Ilja, the changes won´t stop, and we´ve already restructured a hundred times, when is it going to get back to normal again?“ To that, I usually give the following answer, “But what if this is it? What if the constant change has long become the new normal? The question today is not if you have been affected by change, but how well are you prepared for it, and how do you deal with it?“

And this is where it gets interesting. Instead of making the necessary changes, many people have specialized in waiting for the perfect moment. By doing so, they miss out on taking their career to the next level, improving the atmosphere at their workplace or making a long-standing dream become reality. The companies also haven´t adjusted to the changed conditions yet. In some cases, I even get the impression that some organizations have mentally stopped in their tracks over thirty years ago. In practice, these crusty structures are often reflected through hierarchical thinking, a strict top-down leadership, and, because of this, an inevitably large amount of bureaucracy. The thinking is simple. The longer and more exotic the title listed on the manager’s business card, the more power he has, as a general rule. But this mentality leads to decision paths being dragged out, responsibilities being delegated from the bottom up, and changes taking a very long time, or never happening at all.

If you don’t change, you will get changed

In day-to-day business, this has huge consequences. If the executive floor doesn´t make any decisions, nothing happens at all. The result? Slowly but surely, a culture of apathy starts developing, in which you lean back, wait it out and rely on someone else fixing things for you. And before you now it, you find yourself in a dilemma. While the belief manifests itself that changes without an official instruction are impossible, you´re giving away your personal responsibility step by step. You forget that you have the ability to make your own decisions, question strategic developments and change yourself. You´d rather whine (usually at a very high level) about the demanding customers, the lazy colleagues or external circumstances than take the necessary steps to initiate changes yourself.

Say goodbye to the growing culture of apathy and start making your own decisions.

That this can be different is something I recently became very aware of, when I flew back to Berlin after a business meeting in Frankfurt. If you are a more or less frequent flyer yourself, you will know that you can sometimes get really lucky with the person sitting next to you. Emphasis on sometimes. On that particular day, I wanted to get some work done, so directly after boarding I opened my MacBook Air, and I was hoping to write a few more pages for my new book during the flight. It was a clear signal for the outside world: I want to be left alone. But the person sitting next to me did not pay any mind, because he started talking to me before the plane even took off. “So, are you flying to Berlin, too?“ I really wanted to reply, “Nope, I´m getting off over Hannover!“ But the ice was broken and we talked about his current job situation for almost the entire flight. He was a manager in a company that was involved in an intensive change process. And his attitude really did impress me because he said, “You know, Mr. Grzeskowitz, our situation definitely isn´t easy, but I think about it like this. Even if the circumstances are tough, there are things that I can control and there are things I can´t control. And I´ve decided to exclusively focus on the first category.“

Set the pin code for your life yourself

How would you deal with a situation like this? Are you actively changing, or do you prefer to wait for the perfect moment and hope that you´ll get a lucky break? Today, I am able to laugh about this story, but in that moment I learned something very important. Always focus on the things you can change. Because if you don´t actively change, you will get changed at some point. And this is why I want to invite you to leave the times of passively waiting behind you, once and for all. Set the pin code for your life yourself. Be one step ahead of the changes. And this starts with the decision to take responsibility, even though this might not be the easy way. Make the conscious decision to look in the mirror and say, “No matter where I am today, no matter how satisfied or dissatisfied I am with my results, it was always me. Nobody else. And if I don´t like it, only I can change it.“

Let the change begin!


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