The concept of change invokes various emotions in people depending on how they look at it. For some, change can be exciting as it represents new opportunities whereas for others it is dreaded because it can spell new challenges. Having finally managed to read Dr Spencer Johnson’s “Who moved my Cheese”, I was struck with the interesting portrayal of how different people respond to change, more importantly, I was able to see myself in the characters of the story.
In Dr Johnson’s tale, those that adapted well to change were those that anticipated the change as inevitable and thus prepared for it. Unfortunately, this mindset is only common among a few people. According to bestselling author and organizational leadership expert, Mark A. Murphy, only thirty-eight percent of people welcome change while the other sixty-two percent are change-averse. So how can the majority of people cope with the reality of change?
Murphy suggests that the answer to this question lies in understanding the process of formulating one’s worldview since people’s attitude towards change is greatly influenced by their worldviews. He postulates that the differences in people’s responses to change is dependent on the way we interpret the facts of the change based on our past experiences and individual personalities. He argues that people’s negative interpretation of experiences may have a lot to do with people’s aversion to change.
According to Murphy, people generally evaluate the world using a four-step process acronymed the FIRE model. This process begins awareness of the Facts, followed by Interpretation of those facts as good or bad, which determines our emotional Reaction to those facts thereby leading us to our desired End.
Murphy proposes that though we can’t change the facts, we can, however; change how we interpret those facts thereby changing our emotional responses to it. He explains that positive change management begins with evaluating the facts independent of our emotions, then proactively choosing to view the change in a positive light while being aware of how our worldview determines how we interpret the facts of change. Reflecting Dr Johnson’s cheese story, we can thus summarize Murphy’s positive change management process with the acronym EAT.
E – Evaluate the facts objectively,
A – Align your interpretations of the facts with a positive perspective and finally,
T – Train yourself not to be led by your emotions.
While it is said that we cannot change our personalities, it is possible, however, to adopt traits and habits outside of those personalities so we can EAT.