The word change can conjure up many different feelings. When you think of the word do you get apprehensive or excited? Do you welcome change with open arms or do you fight it with everything you've got? Everyone responds differently, but you are more likely to be accepting of change if you are the creator and you are more likely to oppose it when it is forced upon you.
If it's true that we would rather initiate change than have it thrust upon us, then why do we not do it more often? Maybe we don't have the time to do it or see it through or maybe we just simply don't know how. Life is full of change and that leads to growth. Change is what keeps us from becoming stagnant, keeps our life moving in the right direction and allows us to achieve the greatness we desire and deserve. Like it or not, we need to be willing to embrace it and work on being agile to go with the flow and change with the tides when something doesn't go according to plan.
Key traits of a catalyst for change
In this sense of the word, a catalyst is a person that causes something else to happen. So a person who is a catalyst for change has a few key traits:
1. Initiative. Catalysts make things happen. These people are focused and determined, they know what they want, where they're going and generally what needs to be done to get there. They are not afraid to put themselves out there and get started.
2. Positive promotion. Catalysts positively promote the new direction or idea. They understand and acknowledge the associated cons, but focus on advocating and generating a buzz around the pros. These people champion the ideas and put themselves behind it fully even when met with resistance. Catalysts work on getting buy-in from as many people as they can so the change is more likely to be accepted and implemented.
3. Make change manageable. Catalysts recognize that not everyone appreciates or welcomes change, in fact they know that some people are dead set against it. Most people are more willing to say "yes" to small, clear, manageable goals as opposed to large, confusing and complicated ones. With this in mind catalysts will break down the idea into more digestible chunks and take a gradual approach to implementing the change as opposed to doing it all at once.
4. Agility. Catalysts are agile by nature. They can quickly change direction, refocus and get back on track when they need to. Not every idea is a good idea, not every idea will be do-able but the ability to pick up and quickly get back on track is a key characteristic of a catalyst for change. They are not dissuaded by opposition, they can take complaints and view them as constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement.
How you can become a catalyst for change
If you're not currently a catalyst for change but can see how this approach can keep you moving in the right direction, here are some things you can do to get you well on your way.
1. Analyse. Take a look at what you've got going on in your life right now. Write everything down that comes to mind. Is there anything that jumps out at you that you're not content with? Is there something that isn't moving forward as quickly as you would like it to? Identifying what you want to change is the first step to getting somewhere with it.
2. Take initiative. Make it happen. Don't wait for someone else to take over or to offer to help you out. Once you have identified what you want to work on changing write down several possible "next steps" you can take to realizing that change. Do you want to improve your relationship with someone? Do you want to change the way you react to stressful situations? Do you want to change an aspect of your current job? Are you bored with your life? Whatever it is you want to change you won't get very far without having specific action items you can do to implement it. Start small, choosing easier tasks to help you get started and gain momentum, then focus on items that are a bit more involved or difficult and just keep going!
3. Give and get feedback. When implementing a change it's great if you're able to bounce ideas off other people, particularly if they can help you implement that change in someway. Be open and receptive to feedback but realize that others’ opinions are not golden. You don't have to take all feedback on board however, it is a good idea to at least consider it. Give it some thought and see where you may best apply it, it's not always immediately obvious. Equally as important is to give feedback when asked for it. Be sure it's genuine and that you are able to stand behind it. If it's directly related to what you want changed this could be your opportunity to get buy-in and support for your new idea, so don't waste it.
4. Create an environment for change. There is nothing more discouraging than trying to create change in an environment that is not conducive to it. I liken it to trying to stick to a diet in a house that is filled with chips, cookies, ice cream, pop and chocolate; you are just making it more difficult on yourself. If you are trying to get more organized around the house, as an example, create an environment that lets you do just that. Start by decluttering and then get bins and storage boxes, label shelves and containers, talk to the rest of your family and get them on board.
Change is good it quite often leads to process improvement, increased productivity and efficiency. Being that catalyst for change is very rewarding and empowering. Grab the reins, take initiative and make deliberate changes to your life to get to where you want to go faster than you are right now.