By Kirsty Maynor
After studying Change Management at university and reading almost every available book on the subject, I spent the early years of my professional career working as a Change Management Consultant for one of the Big Four consulting firms, teaching C-Suite executives how to manage the change they wanted to create in their organisations.
But when life threw me a series of curveballs – which included being made redundant from my job shortly after recovering from a serious bout of postpartum depression – I found that almost everything I thought I knew about change was wrong. I was an expert in change management solutions which might have looked great on paper, but in practice were worse than useless.
The traditional theories and tools for managing change – mostly devised by men, for men – simply didn’t apply to me, or, as far as I could tell, many other women in my position. I knew that if I was going to move forward with my life, I would have to start by busting the myths surrounding change, and coming up with some strategies that would work for myself and other women like me.
In this article, I want to draw attention to three common change myths – the ones we so often hear, but which stop many of us in our tracks when we’re trying to create change in our own lives – and focus on the reality of what change actually looks like for most women. I’m pretty sure that some of them will sound familiar.
Change requires a giant leap
Sometimes, a giant leap is the only way forward. But the reality of change is that more often than not, it takes place slowly. For most of us, it’s not feasible – or necessary – to leap feet-first into change. It makes more sense to build our scaffolding, piece by piece, in the direction of the change we want to make (or happen to be navigating), and take the journey one step at a time. Sometimes we can even live through change by crawling on our hands and knees. As long as we’re moving forward in the direction we want to go, even if we’re doing it in baby steps, then that’s good enough!
You have to believe in yourself
This is a tricky one because it’s natural to hope for that extra boost of confidence, or self-belief, to create the impetus we need to lean into change. We’re told to “believe in ourselves”, and if we don’t, then perhaps it would be better to hold off on starting our own business, relocating or making other important moves in our lives. But the reality is actually the opposite: self-belief is often waiting for us on the other side of the change, not the other way around.
Change has to look good
Social media has a lot to answer for; we’re so used to seeing the end result of change in other people’s lives, without witnessing the messy, dishevelled and chaotic journey they went through to get there. We don’t see the self-doubt, the false starts or the struggles that people face, which gives us the impression that change has to look good, from beginning to end. Well, let me tell you: it doesn’t! I like to think of change as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly: the middle of the journey is a gooey, sticky and sometimes unpleasant mess. And that’s perfectly normal. Change won’t always look good, especially in the messy middle.
If you’ve ever believed any of these myths, if any of them have prevented you from pursuing change in your own life, or if they have stopped you from moving forward with intention when life has thrown unwelcome change in your path, then you’re not alone. In my book, Untangled: a practical and inspirational guide to change we choose and change we don’t, I take a closer look at the many myths surrounding change, and dispel some of the common misconceptions on the subject.
About the author
Kirsty Maynor is an entrepreneur, mother, author, change and leadership specialist and founder and CEO of Firefly, a female-led team of organisational culture change and leadership development specialists who are igniting better futures, today.
Navigating change has been part of Kirsty Maynor’s professional and personal life for more than three decades. An internationally sought-after specialist, leadership consultant and elite accredited executive coach, Kirsty has traversed some of life’s most difficult transitions; like redundancy, bereavement, divorce and raising a teenager – and emerged happier, smarter, more fulfilled and still standing.
She is the first Scottish member of the elite global Transformational Leadership Council. Her first book, Untangled, will be published on 28 November and guides individuals through change to fully realise their potential.