• Simon Phillips


Acceptance and Change

According to change management theory, acceptance is the point at which things start to look up! Following, the anxiety, disbelief, anger, grief and hostility of the initial impact of change there is a time to just accept what is and get on with life. At least, that is the recommended path. What if you could get to the point of acceptance quicker? Would that help?

What if…?

One of the most powerful tools in the Change Maker Toolkit is the ability to think. And, one of the best questions to consider is, what if? Let’s ask some powerful questions about the UK following Brexit.

  • What if the UK economy does not falter in the way the experts predict? What if it does?

  • What if global trade could be re-engineered to minimise the impact of potentially higher tariffs in Europe? What if it can’t?

  • What if a fall in the number of migrant workers causes disruption in the delivery of essential services? What if the opposite is true?

The power of these questions is not in their phrasing but in their ability to get you thinking more about what’s next? Personal power is generated by spending more time thinking about how to deal with the impact of change and less about the impact itself.

The Critic and the Coach

Acceptance is the difference between the critic and the coach. The critic chooses to spend their time looking back, assessing and dismantling a particular event or entity. Whereas the coach looks at what has happened and seeks to build a more compelling future. By all means spend some time doing a quick review of what has happened. I always recommend a simple T-Chart with “Did Well” / “Do Better” as the column headings. But don’t take any more time than is necessary to extract the key learning points.

Instead, look at “what is”. As you look around you, what is happening right now? What will it take to move things forward positively? How are people feeling? How are you feeling?

The Quest for the Future

Through asking “What if?” questions we can decide what we are going to do next. Some have argued that those seeking a second referendum on EU membership are trying to turn back the clock, but this may not be the case. One can accept the result and still see a new vote as one of the next steps. For those not involved, or not wishing to be involved, in the macro decisions though, the best way to deal with the change (or the uncertainty) is to look around, take stock of what has changed and move on. Whatever happens next, the world will not be the same. Opportunities will still present themselves to those that are not fixated on looking back. The quest for the future is clear for those with the greatest capacity for acceptance. As fellow Change Maker, Donnie MacNicol wrote in his most recent blog, "there is always a solution."

Simon Phillips is the founder of The Change Maker Group and a key architect of change and development projects and programmes.


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