When something unexpected happens to you or derails your progress, how do you typically respond? Do you adapt well to change? Do you adapt boldly to that change? Great leaders and entrepreneurs do adapt boldly to change, and even individuals need to adapt boldly to change because change is always all around us and is always happening. Today I want to take you through some simple things that you can do to adapt more boldly into change with positive results.
Hi, my name is Eric Partaker and I coach CEOs, entrepreneurs, leaders, and individuals in peak levels of performance; helping them close that gap between where they are and where they'd like to be. Today's message is inspired by the book the CEO Next Door, which did an analysis of the key behaviors that are required to transform ordinary people into world-class leaders. One of those key behaviors that we're going to do a deep dive in today is the ability to adapt boldly to change. This is really split into two sections with some practical things that you can do within each section. Section one is going to be all about how you can get better at letting go of the past, and section two is all going to be about how you can build better antenna for the future. We'll go into each with practical tools that you can use to become better, but just before we do that, I want you to think of three companies, Kodak, Blockbuster, and Boarders. All hugely successful companies. Do you know what they all have in common? They all fail to adapt boldly to change in their marketplace, and where are they now today?
With that, let's go into the first area, letting go of the past. One of the first things that you can do is think through what are the habits, the strategies, the successful traits that have gotten us to where we are today, but then in a very contrarian approach, are we able to discard those? Are we able to experiment with new habits, new strategies, new ways of doing business, because if you're not, you won't be prepared to adapt boldly to whatever changes might be on the horizon or that you're currently experiencing. You have to be willing to let go of what got you to where you are today, because what got you here isn't necessarily going to be what's going to get you to where you're going.
Now, a great story that underpins this is Andy Grove. Andy Grove was the late chairman of Intel, and at one point, Intel was in the memory chip business, but that business wasn't going so well. Andy Grove, in a pensive moment, asked his CEO, "If we're to be kicked out of this company and the board were to hire a new team, a new management team, what would that team do differently?" His CEO said, "Well, they would get out of the memory business." Then Andy said, "Well, why don't we walk out the door right now, come back in and do exactly what that new team would do." That's just a fascinating way to think about things, because are there things that you're doing that you have relied upon as pivotal to your success that may no longer be serving you? Are you too attached to those things? Are you willing to let those things go, because if you're not, you won't be able to adapt boldly to change, which once again is one of the key behaviors, key leadership traits that transforms ordinary people into world-class leaders.
Another thing that you can do to develop your ability to let go of the past is to not just think about the strategies and the habits that have created your success today, but also think about, well, what are the new skills that I could acquire? There's the past version of you or the present version of you, which consists of the version of you that knows everything that you know today, but if you were to let go of that version of you, what are the new skills that you could acquire? What skills are so important or crucial for where you or your company or your team are going? Think about it. What are the things that you should be developing? What are they the key attributes or characteristics, and are you working on those skills? Because it's just a matter of deciding whether or not to do that and then building that into your day. That's another way of letting go of the past. You're letting go of who you used to be, and you're starting to build the better you.
A third thing that you can do that can help you let go of the past is start new hobbies. I know this may not sound like a leadership or professional thing to do, but just the act of doing, the act of learning something new, whether it's a language or learning to play guitar, learning a new sport, the act of doing that in a safe place that maybe doesn't relate to your profession starts to make you a bit more adaptable. It forces you to do things that you're not used to doing. That's what we're trying to do with all of these things. We're trying to let go of the things that made us who we are today so that we are open minded to building or adapting to a different version of us.
The next section is about building an antenna for the future. One of the first things that you want to do is make sure that within your calendar that there is time reserved for just thinking time; thinking about the future, looking at what trends are going on, what's happening, how that might be impacting you, your team, your company, or wherever it is that you're headed. One of the fantastic things that you can do as well is to start building better, more diverse networks. What I like to do in this regard is just connect to experts, connect to the people who I've identified have deep expertise within a particular trend or area that I know is going to be important for me, my team, or my business, and have conversations with them, ask them their points of view, ask them where did they think things are going? How do they think this might impact you?
Having those conversations, networking to other sets of knowledge in the form of other people, in the form of other news sources, in the form of materials that you're not used to reading helps expand your mind and helps build that antenna for the future. The other thing that you can do is get much better at doing what's called a pre-mortem before the postmortems. Usually, after a project is complete, you'll typically do that post-mortem where you look back at everything that was done and you ask yourself, okay, well, what went well? What didn't? Any insights or key learnings? What might we do better as a result, but you can be doing this in the form of a pre-mortem as well, where you can be asking the team, let's assume that everything that we're planning to do right now that it's all going to fail and it's 18 months from today and that failure has happened.
What are the reasons that we can identify now that could have led to that situation? What are the obstacles that might be in our way, and then challenge the team, challenge yourself, to develop plans to mitigate each of those risks. How could you be dealing with those obstacles now? How could you be building it into your work plans, into your strategies and how could you be doing that so that either you can avoid those things happening or so that when they do happen, you can react more quickly, more positively and more on the front foot with determination, rather than on the back foot with surprise.
Last but not least, to build an antenna for the future, I highly encourage you to speak to your customers. Whatever the group is of people that you're serving or trying to serve, ask them, talk to them, understand what's on their mind. What are their pain points? What are their challenges, their struggles, their frustrations, because whatever they tell you informs what you should be developing solutions for; new products or services that can alleviate those pain points, that can help them experience success more quickly with less hardship.
In summary, to become a world class leader, we need to become really good at adapting boldly to change. This is one of the four key behaviors identified in the book CEO Next Door, which was all about how do we transform ordinary people into world-class leaders, and that will serve you, whether you're a CEO, an entrepreneur, a leader, a manager, or just an individual who's trying to adapt to change; to the change that we all experienced constantly in our life. We do that by applying those practical tools that we just went through that help us let go of the past and build better antenna for the future.