Closing Cycles: How Change affects our Leadership

The year is over! This is a typical expression that we began to hear since November, not to mention also in the last month of the year. The calendar has always been an important way to measure our life cycles; not only is it responsible for reminding us of birthdays and anniversaries, but it also reminds us of multiple holidays, seasons, beginning and end of classes, summer vacation, and so on. Calendars mark the change that is unavoidable and constant in our lives. 

Whether we’ve changed a lot, a little or nothing at all, the year is over, and this always marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, the good and bad have “ended”, and we look forward to this month with the hope that the good things will happen again and that the bad ones do not. We withhold mixed emotions of pleasure, fear, good spirit, and anxiety that are generated at any beginning when we need to retake leadership of our lives. 

I was lucky enough to attend the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix in 2001, it was my first time in a race like that, and I noticed how most people around me took earplugs out of their pockets or looked to buy a pair from the vendor who walked between the stands, and then carefully place them in their ears. I rushed to ask my fellow neighbors in the seats beside me if the earplugs were necessary; they told me, “No, it is not necessary! It is required!” When the racecars began to circulate around the track, I finally understood my neighbor’s comment; this protection was required if you wanted to keep your ears functioning after listening to those engines. 

Like the earplugs at Formula 1, adaptability to change is not necessary, it is mandatory; change is not optional, it does not sometimes happen, and sometimes not, it is not only for leadership, in fact, the only thing we can guarantee as a constant in our lives is change. The greatest cycles, just like the change to a new year, happen all the time. So why is it so hard to accept? 

As humans, we develop a strong attachment to the things we like or that satisfy us and then we imagine their completely illusory permanence. We pretend that everyone gets older, but we do not; that we are the same, that our tastes, philosophical or religious positions, and many other things remain unchanged. It is an educational legacy that we receive and transmit from generation to generation; to think that we must adopt positions, fix ideas, and have a definite opinion and often immovable to different aspects of life. By ignoring change, leaders lose their flexibility and their leadership. 

We grew thinking that we enjoy what is stable and we suffer when things change. Sadly, the only thing stable in life is change and that “stability” thinking causes us many problems. 

I propose a completely different idea for your leadership, how about falling in love with change? Enjoy every moment in the wonder of changes, like how our body allows us to live and mature, and just as we enjoy the growth of a child or grandchild and see it go through different stages, enjoy any change in our lives including our maturation and aging. 

After all, despite vitamins, supplements, creams, and surgeries, we have no control over the physical changes and we can only try to hide the inevitable, then why worry about it. 

It is much better to feel good because we started to like something or we ceased to like it, get excited at the prospect of changing our mind, with the tremendous freedom and relaxation that we get by not having to care for or defend a position and to just accept that we think differently and not to seek to defend unnecessary rigidity. Leadership is greatly improved with flexibility and adaptability to change. The opposite damages employee engagement. 

A lot of effort and energy are spent daily to defend what we are, what we think, what we do, when the reality is that all of it changes constantly. Do you still see things the same way as you did when you were a teenager? Do you have the same opinion about your parents? Are you still seeing your partner the same way? Did your love for friends stay the same? Are your hobbies the same? Of course not, none of this is permanent, nothing is ever permanent. 

Is change something bad? Is it good? Let’s simply say it’s nothing more than different and whether it is bad or good it is the result of our attitude toward the inevitable change. 

In these times of closure cycles, notable moments of change in which the end of the year and holidays helped us to review and plan new beginnings, change the nostalgia of permanence or stability of things for the joy of constant change, transformation and wonder about the perpetual motion of cells, ideas, feelings, relationships. 

Let’s concentrate our efforts on the transformation, on the inevitable change going in the right direction giving a positive direction to our lives. Make change not just like a disease that attacks us, which we leave quickly, heal, and say, “it’s over”, but a true transformation, that we can see all the inevitable events of our lives as positive. Asking ourselves, how do I take advantage of this change, of this event. What do I learn from it? What new skill, knowledge or relationship do I gain? What do I learn from this difficulty? How does it transform my leadership? 

I leave you with my best wishes to eliminate from your vocabulary the phrase “resistance to change” and embrace leadership adaptability. That despite things not being what they used to, nor be the way you want them to be, may you be happy, and understand the impermanence of all things, understand that the only permanence is change and that things always are as they should be.

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