How to Face Disruptive Change and Thrive
Our response to change, challenge, or turmoil reveals more about us than it says about circumstances.
The arrival of Jesus felt like disruptive threat to some and opportunity to others. The same event invites wildly diverse responses.
Shepherds heard of the birth of Jesus and responded with curiosity and enthusiasm. It was opportunity.
Luke, the gospel historian, records that the shepherds rushed to see what was going on in Bethlehem. (Luke 2:15-16 NLT)
Political leaders heard of the birth of Jesus and viewed it as threat. They were troubled, aggressive, and deceptive. (The former tax collector for the Roman government, Matthew, records the leader’s response to the arrival of Jesus in Matthew chapter 2.)
The shepherds were curious, enthusiastic, and open. Political insiders were curious, threatened, and closed.
People on the fringes – sheepherders – saw opportunity when they heard about the arrival of Jesus. Insiders – leaders with position and status – felt threat.
Successful leaders navigate tensions between protecting the status quo and exploring opportunities. During turmoil or innovation, watch for protectionism, arrogance, fear, and agenda driven curiosity.
7 leadership observations:
- It’s easy to be open when you have little to lose.
- Curiosity may be about exploring opportunity or preventing change. Some questions are designed to block progress, others to encourage it. Successful leaders ask forward-facing questions.
- Humility tends to openness and exploration.
- Arrogance tends to deception, aggression, and protecting the status quo.
- Curiosity ignites energy and inspires action.
- One person’s threat is another’s opportunity.
- Those who embrace innovation tend to go further than those who resist it.
How might leaders navigate tensions between stability and disruption?
Keep on open mind to change, realize that opportunity does present itself with the least resistance, the greater the resistance the more chance for failure, but not always.
We have to search out all the tangents to factor in, before being so quick to judge success or failure in business and life.
Be thorough before judging the opportunity, haste can crash, before the frame is built, all change needs a good foundation.
Thanks Tim. I notice you begin with being open to change. It seems that the ability to see opportunity is closely connected to open curiosity. The difference between threat and opportunity is our mindset toward our circumstances. Thanks for your insights
I have experienced changes and learned to adjust as circumstances dictated. Maintaining an open mind helped me through the stages of doubt being my mindset of fear or faltering compared too, this works, just accept the change.
P.S Merry Christmas
Your reflection on this topic is relevant and salient. Indeed, you follow the example of the Proverbs- Pride declares, humility asks.
Great thoughts Dan! I believe humility is the key! Jesus, the King, bent the knee and humbled Himself. The result was disruptive to the status quo due to pride. The curious and humble were/are able to look at, and be open to expanding possibilities and “a new thing.” It takes greater strength for a leader to be humble. Humble leaders navigate well within the tension inherent in change.
I appreciate your post. Curious what you would share about leading “the change” both in coaching those who would find themselves more anxious while cultivating a robust conversation about opportunity with others?
Merry Christmas Dan. Thanks for the gifts you give so freely every day.
Love it. Great post!
Your examples of the threat (or the good news, depending on one’s perspective) that Jesus brought is a great example of what we all are presented with every day. Whatever happens is either a threat or an opportunity. With wisdom, we learn it is simply our decision as to which we choose.
I am reminded of a leadership course of study I was in some years ago at Case Western. The head of the department started his introduction of the 2 year program with what he said was a critical perspective we needed to have — “Ya’ gunna die.” Certainly wasn’t a new perspective for me, but it was the first time I had ever heard it at a university.
Although we may have become conditioned to react to change as a threat or upsetting, with experience and wisdom we can learn to get beyond the “re”-action and move to action — knowing that in reality, we are being presented with an opportunity.
I believe that is true for each of us both spiritually and in life. It can be amazing when we, even in the face of physical death, can look forward to the opportunity that is coming. I have a friend, less than 70 years of age, who now knows his death is near. He has been an inspiration in his perspective of embracing it.
Thanks Dan for your messages of what are many times soul changing wisdom.
And, merry Christmas.