Two Different Types of Change: Are You Allergic to Positive Change?

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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  • Why do you go to the dentist every six months? Isn’t it to avoid problems?
  • When do you go to the doctor? Isn’t it when you are sick and want to become better?
  • When do organizations go through change? Isn’t it usually when things are going poorly?

What all of these examples are portraying is normal change.

Normal change is essentially the process of going from bad to good; something negative to something more positive.

Let me give you some examples. Normal change is going from

  • Unprofitable to profitable
  • Ineffective to effective
  • Inefficient to reliable
  • Unethical to ethical
  • Conflictual to amicable
  • Withering to enduring

Here is an interesting thing: If we or our organizations are successful with normal change, we tend to think we have ‘arrived’ and have actually become successful.

I mean, what is better than being profitable, effective, reliable, etc.? Those seem pretty good.

But there are things better. For example, consider the following next levels:

  • Unprofitable to profitable to generous
  • Ineffective to effective to excellent
  • Inefficient to reliable to flawless
  • Unethical to ethical to virtuous
  • Conflictual to amicable to caring
  • Withering to enduring to flourishing

Any guesses on what this next-level change is called? You’re probably right: positive change.

Positive change is the process of going from good to great; something positive to something extraordinary.

To go back to the doctor example from the beginning of the post, we normally only go to the doctor when we want to go from bad to good. But, how many go to the doctor (or some form of a doctor) to go from living relatively healthy to thriving in our well-being?

And here is another interesting thing: Do you think most people welcome, readily accept, and even seek out positive change? Or asked a different way: Do most people encourage or discourage positive change?

Often, people push against such change. The people who push against such change are comfortable with the status quo and to them, change, even if it is for the positive is seen as a disruption to their state of comfort.

For example, it is not uncommon for:

  • Non-stars to ask stars to tone it down a notch
  • Those who are in a state of comfort to see those calling for positive change as deviants
  • People to be reluctant to hire coaches or therapists because they are afraid that others might judge them

From my experience, it is not uncommon for people to lump both normal change and positive change together. And, it is even more common for people to emphasize or place priority on normal change over positive change.

But, if we truly want to be extraordinary, we have got to seek out, embrace, and encourage positive change.

But doing so requires changing our mindsets. In fact, it requires us to change from having what is called a prevention mindset to having a promotion mindset.

Quickly, a prevention mindset is when our focus is on seeking not to lose, seeking to avoid problems. A promotion mindset is when our focus is on seeking to win, seeking a specific destination.

A promotion mindset is open to going past being profitable to being generous, past being effective to being truly excellent.

If you want to learn more about prevention and promotion mindsets, check out this prior blog post: Unlocking Greater Success by Developing a Promotion Mindset.

If you want to learn the degree to which you have a promotion mindset, take this free personal mindset assessment.

To close, consider the following questions to help you gauge whether you or your organization needs to be more welcoming to positive change:

  • What is your focus, what is your priority: avoiding bad/moving from bad to good, or is it seeking the positive, moving from good to great?
  • How open are the employees in your organization to positive change? Do they prioritize comfort or do they prioritize purpose?

In all, don’t be allergic to positive change.

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