As the seasons change, I pause to stop and think about how profound changes are in our lives. They are all around us…from the simplicity of changing a channel or changing your clothes, to profound life changes such as birth, death and other monumental moments. While many people fight change, as a business leader, change can be a very beneficial part of your growth process and a catalyst to create a stronger and even better leader.
As an executive coach I am often asked to come into organizations and guide their leaders through times of immense change. It can be a tumultuous season – one of great uncertainty and sometimes even fear or sadness. It is an honor and privilege to walk executives through these life events and help them uncover the hidden jewels and lessons often enveloped within the shifting tide.
During these coaching sessions, I like to help the coachee understand a model called the Universal Cycles of Change. They are seven change patterns that govern our lives. I find that leaders who are able to embrace this cycle often emerge stronger and more emotionally aware and understand how to best support themselves and of their team members through change.
The word creation evokes pictures of new beginnings. It is the beginning of a new life event – the starting point that typically begins with an idea or an action. This could be the start of new business, or a new stage of leadership development. Creation marks the point where we begin our journey. It is an “X” marks the spot kind of moment – and once we move from that location, a new journey starts.
From the moment creation begins we start to grow. We develop and become “self-organizing.” This means is that once the creation takes place, new patterns of behavior start to develop, and the system organizes itself around the original creation. For example once a new business is launched, the business owner needs to start making plans – this could be product development, marketing plans, new clients and new staff. The business has taken its shape as a business (it was created), and now it is starting to grow.
A steady state is a place of great comfort. It has past the point of creation and through the pains of growth to a place of what feels like you have arrived. It is a place where all systems are go and are firing correctly. Everything is moving forward as planned and everyone is in their sweet spot. It is a position to which most leaders aspire. And, if leaders are not careful, it can also become a point of complacency which will inevitably lead to the next phase in the cycle
I have heard it said that we are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis or heading back into a crisis. Turbulence occurs when the system becomes too complex, or we become lax in our preparation, and problems begin to develop. Times of turbulence can be viewed in two ways depending upon the maturity of the leader. They can be used as a warning sign to right the ship and get back on track, or they can be ignored. Ignorance, however, often leads to chaos.
Chaos is when the system begins to fall apart. It is past the point of the bumps and jolts of turbulence to a full blown tail spin. It is the time when leaders need to take control before something catastrophic happens.
Dropping off is the point of acceptance for many leaders. It is often the lowest point in the cycle of change. The point when an individual has no other recourse but to let go and move on. It could be closing a door on a failed business and moving elsewhere or getting rid of a caustic employee. It can be painful, but also should be viewed as an important turning point in the cycle. It is the point when a leader takes control. In order to move forward through a difficult life challenge, we often need to let go of a limiting belief, a dysfunctional relationship, change a behavior or reorganize how we view the world. This allows us to make the space to create something wonderfully new.
Meditation & Dormancy
Meditation and inward silence (dormancy) are the final point in the Universal Cycles of Change. Just as a tree stands without leaves in the brisk cold winter, leaders need to “be” like the tree, standing in the moment and accepting who they are and where they have been placed. It might be uncomfortable for a while, but meditating and inward silence can be very healing and ultimately can set the tone for a new Universal Cycle of Change, creativity and growth.
Are you stuck in a phase of the Universal Cycle of Change and need some direction? At the Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP we have the honor of helping business leaders navigate this path. Sometimes it is through individual coaching retreats, while other times it is working with a group of leaders and an executive coach to review the team’s leadership strategy. Feel free to contact our team for more information on how we can help you plot your course through the Universal Cycle of Change.