A NEW SKILL
Companies’ behaviour is not so very different from that of people. If companies, for example, feel change is a threat rather than an opportunity, they may flee, fight or become paralysed. The fact is business moves forward, however. We will not stop change. Nor should we want to. The human race is able to adapt to new environments. Charles Darwin expressed it well:
‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.’
Nowadays developing countries, for example in Asia, are often more ready to adapt than European ones, not only because they are more responsive, but because they are enthusiastic to create a brighter future. I had a fortune cookie the other day saying ‘a man without a smiling face shouldn’t open a shop’. Right! In Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ has two characters: danger and opportunity. If you see opportunity, you feel optimistic. If you combine that with the Chinese Mandarin translation — and understanding — of the World Wide Web as a ‘myriad dimensional net’ you can see why the Chinese attitude helps them look for, and find, opportunity in change. Yet so often in the west we see change as a threat.
To keep calm when under threat, it is said, you need to observe and plan. Easily said, but imagine you are facing a King Brown snake in the Australian outback and you have a phobia about snakes. You just want to run away. I know. I found myself in that very situation some years ago. Why do we want to run? The sense of threat makes the blood flow to our feet, and so we start to run away, or it may flow to our arms and they start fighting, or to our stomach, which makes our belly hurt and we feel paralysed and stop moving.
Do any of these three experiences sound familiar? The key to them all is where the blood comes from. Our brain weighs only 2% of our total weight, but contains 25% blood. The blood which flows to your arms, legs or stomach, therefore, obviously comes from your brain. You need blood in your brain at those moments for the brain to be able to support your skill in observing, evaluating and planning opportunities and solutions. What would you do, then, faced by the King Brown snake? I’ll tell you what I did. I tried to stand still and hoped not to scare it to try to avoid it feeling threatened and defending itself as best as it can. We need to bear that in mind as we, too, face change: treat change with respect and react with common sense, positive thinking and creative spontaneity. Think first before you move and especially before you run away.
We, too, need to lead change.
We need new skills to identify opportunities and we need to combine creative and business thinking to come up with innovation. We need to keep the blood flowing through our brain.