Strategies for Dealing with Change

Contact Author By Peter McLaughlin April 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Peter McLaughlin addresses strategies for dealing with change in your business and making those changes work for you. McLaughlin is an internationally recognized author, speaker and consultant who works with businesses to maximize productivity and achieve peak performance. He is co-author of the best-selling book Mentally Tough: The Principles of Winning at Sports Applied to Winning in Business (M. Evans and Company, Inc., 1986). Selected in a national poll as one of the best business speakers in the nation, McLaughlin has worked with companies such as American Express, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Target and PepsiCo.

One day, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. They set up their tent, crawled inside and quickly fell asleep. A few hours later, Holmes woke his faithful friend and said, “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”
        Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.”
        “What does that tell you?”
        Watson pondered for a minute and then said, “Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”
        Holmes was silent for a moment and then said, “Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent!”
        All humor aside, the story illustrates an important business point: Changes often occur so quickly that you, like Watson, fail to come to grips with the new landscape. Your tent is gone, yet no one notices. You’re left alone in the woods without shelter, and you’re not prepared for it. That’s why as managers and business leaders, you must be ready to tackle anything at any time.

Getting ready for anything
        Those business professionals who want to be successful and lead a sane, healthy and happy life need a new kind of training—one that business schools don’t provide. To take an analogy from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (William Morrow & Company, 1974), most of today’s leaders, like institute-trained mechanics, are ready for everything—except a new situation.
        If you are to be ready for anything, your training must focus more on the person, not just the business. That means focusing on you and your own personal and professional development rather than merely focusing on the situation. It’s about becoming more optimistic and resilient, more creative and energetic. How do you actually do that? Well, consider the following strategies.

Get active
        You need a combination of aerobic workouts, strength training and some variety of stretching to maintain the energy and positive emotions necessary to navigate a new landscape. Elizabeth Curtis, CEO of Sharp Community Medical Group in San Diego, works out most mornings and rides her horses most weekends. She does so because her job demands it—working with 1,100 physicians is not easy.
        “I don’t know how anyone can find the energy to keep up and to make crucial decisions without the benefits of exercise and healthy eating,” she says. “Nothing relieves my stress like an hour at the fitness center or a 20-minute run.”
        So how do you fit exercise into an already busy schedule? That’s where some creative scheduling comes into play. Chances are if you really look, you can find 30 minutes of free time in your day. Perhaps to adequately fit exercise in you’ll need to wake a half-hour earlier. And, in fact, that’s the best approach. Because exercise stimulates the right side of the brain, those who exercise first thing in the morning tend to get their most creative ideas during that time. So not only is exercise good for the body, it’s good for the mind too.

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 Stake your tent … and your claim
        Those business professionals who pitch their tents in uncharted territory are the true leaders. Sure, they may be a bit apprehensive of change initially, but because they’re physically fit, enthusiastically optimistic and headquartered in creative thinking, they embrace the future in the new world of technology, globalization and ever-aging employees … and their results are better for it. So the next time someone moves your tent, admire the new view and embrace the change.

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