You have built and fostered the growth of a bountiful garden. You look out of your kitchen window to bask in the glory of the harvest you will collect tomorrow. Tomorrow, you wake up and realize the deer and rabbits also recognized your hard work; they thank you kindly for filling their bellies by decimating your crop and leaving footprints and dung droppings behind. You are ENRAGED! All the hours, the time, the patience, and the PLANS YOU HAD to make soups and pickling jars, GONE.
You want to rip up the plants that are not destroyed, unearthing every last root structure, and launch them across your street with the firepower of a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. You stand in your kitchen, clenching your fists, daydreaming of all the havoc you will release onto the garden so the animals can’t return for a second helping, as if there was anything they left behind. You know this feeling well because you’ve been quick to react, which is not always in your best interests. You are sad for all the hard work lost, and instantly grieving for the loss of food. You are embarrassed to tell your friend it’s all gone when it was just yesterday that you made plans to meal prep together.
You take a deep breath and step beside your emotions to view them. You step out of reacting and into observing, then assessing. You realize you knew the fauna had gotten into other gardens nearby. You know you cannot change the current reality, but you can rebuild now that you’ve been successful this time. You know how. And next time, you will also put up a fence. You let the animals return to finish the job over the next few days while also researching humane ways to protect your crop. You take a few days off to grieve. In a week, you use droppings and leftovers to create a more nourished soil. You smile when you see a family of deer.
You now understand it was inevitable for the garden and four-legged hungry mouths to come to a head. While you wish it wasn’t a lesson you had to learn, you are grateful to have learned this lesson and will be sure to pass it on to your neighbors should they decide to garden themselves.
The 2022 National Study of Change and Emotion in the Workplace found 78% of Americans believe they have the power to choose how they respond to change. Are you one of them?
Change Enthusiasm®, developed by Cassandra Worthy, envelops the notion that change is best digested when served with a warm helping of empathy and a main course of human-centered practices by harnessing the power of emotions for growth.
Change Enthusiasm® is a growth mindset that, when practiced, allows one to harness the power of emotion to embrace and navigate change effectively.
The Change Enthusiasm® growth cycle is a three-step practice of embracing emotion as a signal, exploring the opportunity presented, then making a conscious, productive choice toward better.
There are three stages of change:
- Change introduced - causes disruption and chaos
- Change gradually accepted, still somewhat disruptive, with reduced chaos
- Change is fully accepted and becomes the new normal
As culture and organizational changes have shown time and time again, without Change Enthusiasm® (or a similar practice), it is possible during the gradual phase that there is not enough acceptance and inertia reverts you or your organization to the previous normal. This is a cultural issue that must be addressed through cultural change. While a solo practice of Change Enthusiasm® will undoubtedly serve you well throughout life as you navigate unexpected challenges, at an organizational level, Change Enthusiasm® takes demonstrated commitment from the top of the organization. Through the application of the three steps of Change Enthusiasm®; The Signal, The Opportunity, and The Choice, you will be able to guide yourself and others through change for sustainable growth.
According to research by Dr. Brene Brown, 87 unique emotions make up the human experience. Only 18 of those emotions are what we classically refer to as “positive emotions.” Signal emotions traditionally are referred to as “negative emotions,” including but not limited to fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and grief. In the Change Enthusiasm® practice, these emotions act as signals.
A stigma is associated with expressing emotion in the workplace, especially negative emotions. There tends to be a get-on-board mentality during times of change. In this shift, leadership attempts to dull the very present and often sharp contrast of change. Change is, by nature, disruptive and difficult. To move from what is known to what is empirically unknown stirs a host of feelings with anticipation of progress AND despair, often simultaneously. The first step in Change Enthusiasm® is to step into an observer role of these signals rather than a passenger.
It is difficult to both observe and participate. Once you’ve stepped off the moving freight of your emotions to observe them as signals, you can begin to assess the signal emotions as opportunities. When observing, you can take stock of the options in front of you. You have choices. You can succumb to the plight of a passive passenger and end up at an undesirable destination, or you can use emotion to face your fears and insecurities. That sounds awful, right?
The fear and insecurities act as a mirror and opportunity for growth. They show you where the learning opportunities reside within yourself. Recognize and allow your emotions to exist. The goal here is not to judge your emotions as right or wrong, but to experience them as valid. Then, make a list of all the options you could take to respond to change and their potential consequences. Focus your next steps on the options that inspire growth-sustaining emotions such as anticipation and gratitude.
The greatest gift you can give yourself and others in any situation is the power to choose. Making a choice represents immense power and responsibility. You are reading this due to a series of choices that have led you here. Your professional growth is commensurate with your personal growth. Your personal development is directly tethered to the practice of conscious choice and accountability. Change is occurring all around you. The resulting growth or lack thereof from each change is up to you. To the extent that you are willing to slow your reactivity, observe potential outcomes and choose a path of growth dictates your own feeling of empowerment, self-worth, and autonomy in an ever-changing world. In Change Enthusiasm®, this is called 20/20 change vision. You are able to see or trust there is growth in store for you, in spite of not yet having the concrete evidence.
Change is a constant in that there is always some change that is either internal or external. By harnessing the power of emotions as signals for growth, you can also lead others through times of change more effectively. According to the 2022 National Study of Change and Emotion in the Workplace, 72% of Americans are more likely to engage in a change initiative when they feel safe sharing more difficult emotions about that change. Your superpower as a newly practicing Change Enthusiast is to present Change Enthusiasm® to others. These steps, similar to muscular growth, must be flexed and used to improve. The more you practice, the greater your Change Enthusiasm muscle will grow.
The ability to adapt quickly is a desired trait for a leader. Through these three steps, you can create a more authentic environment that recognizes the difficulties of change to propel your organization forward. Instead of suppressing “negative” or those more difficult emotions, you can enhance meaningful discourse around the difficult emotions stirred by change and collaboratively grow as individuals and an organization. Weave Change Enthusiasm® into the tapestry of your organizational culture, vibrant with opportunities for growth.
Start small: The next time something unexpected (personally or professionally) comes up, pause to recognize your signal emotions; have patience with yourself and observe your feelings. Strive to see each as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the experience.
The choices you make following these steps will guide you to a more fulfilling future than you would experience having reacted quickly based on initial emotional instinct.
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