In your workplace, family, or friendships, it’s easy to get in the rut of status quo. Maybe something’s been done one way for so long, and you’ve been advocating for change. Maybe you recognize there’s a problem and you want to fix it. Pushing past status quo can be intimidating and even frustrating, but it is possible. You are uniquely equipped to break through status quo. You can proactively push past it. Let’s look at five ways to do this:
1. Question Your Motives
It’s so very easy to think that your ideas are the best. It’s tempting to think your way is the right way. As you push for change, make sure it isn’t self-serving or self-promoting. People easily read through the facade of change that is self-serving. Are you advocating for something that will make your organization better, or make you look better? Will the team be moving forward, or will you be moving forward? Will your idea help everyone or help yourself? In advocating for change, push past your own selfishness. The truth is, if the change you advocate for is the right kind of change, in the end people will recognize that you were the reason for it. You will win in the end, because your motives were about making life better for everyone, not just for yourself.
2. Clarify The Underlying Win
Sometimes in pushing past status quo, it’s easy to advocate for the wrong kind of change. It’s important to go beyond the specific change you want, and have the value conversation. Does the change you are advocating for, match the core values or mission of your organization? Is the change you want to see in that relationship, going to strengthen that relationship? Change needs to have a reason. If the change you want to see is simply a preference, then it doesn’t have much leverage. Real change has to connect to the underlying values and mission of what you’re trying to do. To advocate for change, invite people into a value conversation. When your conversation reaches that level, you are able to talk about the why behind a strategy-change or focus-shift. That’s when change will feel like a win, not just change for the sake of change.
3. Be Open-Handed With Your Ideas
Not every one of your ideas should happen. It is important to walk through the process of presenting ideas and encouraging change, but not everything you advocate for will happen. Compromise for the right reason is important. Learn the discipline of not being emotionally attached to your idea. Sometimes you can be so connected to what you think should happen, that you aren’t open to feedback or criticism. In that situation, your ideas become limited and small. When you are open-handed with what you want to see happen, that idea has the potential to take on a life of it’s own. It moves past a personal ask and becomes a team push.
4. Build Consensus For Change
When you push past status quo, it’s important to build consensus on the team you’re on. Help people embrace the change with you. They need to see the ‘why’ before they agree with your ‘what.’ It’s tempting to bulldoze your way to a particular change and feel like you’ve won, but in the end you’ve lost with the team you’re on because you never built consensus. Consensus takes time, emotion, and constructive criticism. Change will require your patience and perseverance. Do the hard work of talking it out. Be sensitive with people’s emotions and thoughts through the process. The consensus you build in advocating for change will only strengthen your team and grow that relationship.
5. Influence Change Strategically
There is a right time and a wrong time to advocate for change. There is a specific approach you need to be mindful of as you advocate. The proverbial ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ of status quo, is often the right push at the right time. Look for situations where the change you are advocating for make sense. Use every opportunity for your benefit. As you adjust your approach to a situation, change can be easily walked into. Sometimes transitions in an organization, or life-transitions in a relationship are perfect opportunities to influence change strategically. Maybe you’ve had an idea in your mind for months or years, and a specific opportunity now allows for you to advocate for it. Be strategic with how you influence change.