January 26, 2016
For this month’s meeting, we were privileged to have Hani Kafoury, Psychologist, Founder and Senior Transition Consultant and Coach at Tranzition Consulting Services, return to speak to us again. Hani began by revealing that he has 58 years of experience with change, and pointed out that the audience also has years of experience with change because, even before we were born, we experienced it. So, he asked, even though we all have experience with change, why are we so apprehensive about it?
Most of his talk centered around his climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009, which he used as a metaphor for change. Why? Because, when change is a mountain, he asked, how do you make it to the top? You embrace it, understand it and tackle it. He asked the audience to write down their name with their opposite hand. He then asked how that felt. Audience members answered, “Awkward. Difficult.” Hani likened this feeling to what we experience with acquisitions and mergers in our work environments. Change can feel difficult and awkward, but why do we need to embrace it? Because, as Hani quoted Heraticles, “There is nothing permanent except change.” He explained why climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is so difficult: it’s because the ecosystems are changing so quickly as one climbs, that the body has to acclimatize to the different systems. This is why, of the 30,000 people that attempt to climb the mountain every year, only 60% make it to the top.
Hani reminisced about his life and all the changes he’d experienced throughout it, both personal and professional, and he concluded that resilience comes with experience. He asked, why do we need to embrace change? “Because the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.” He likened change to an iceberg, saying that change is what is seen above the water line. It’s usually something that happens quickly and is motivated by something in the future. Change is what you can see, but transition happens under the water line and it is where things tend to get complicated. Transition happens more slowly than change. He said that 80% of companies that go through change fail, because they don’t consider the psychological transition that their employees need to undergo. He said that change is often associated with gain, whereas transition is usually about loss and something that’s been left behind. He quoted Paul Valery, “Every beginning is a consequence. Every beginning ends something.” Hani explained that every change triggers a transition that can be broken down into three stages: a new beginning, a neutral zone and an ending. He then provided strategies to tackle each stage, which were as follows:
Step 1: Strategies to tackle each stage
Conquering change starts at the bottom of the mountain dealing first with the ending, then moving to the neutral zone, and eventually into new beginnings. As we deal with change, we often go back and forth between ending, neutral zone, and new beginnings. However, the goal is to aspire to reach a new beginning.
The 3 R’s of endings:
In the neutral zone, Hani talked to us about CUSP: control, understanding, support, and purpose. Control is about creating realistic output and short-term goals. Understanding is about seeking information and creating temporary systems. Support is about finding people to support and guide you as you deal with change. Purpose is about revisiting your purpose and following your vision of where you want to go.
In the new beginning, we need to create quick successes as well as affirm and articulate our new identity. We need to execute on our objectives and plans, continue to stay open to change, and keep other changes from distracting us.
Step 2: Do not venture alone!
Build a strong support system, which includes your boss, colleagues, mentor, coach, family and friends. The most important person to help you move up the corporate ladder is your boss. When faced with change, it is important that your boss is behind you.
Step 3: Strategies for dealing with constant change
Group and prioritize all changes. You need to learn the word “no”. People are burning out because they can’t say no. Write your goals down, because it will help you commit to them and make them happen. Avoid “terminal professionalism”, i.e. being married to your job, because it is not good, especially in times of change.
Step 4: Handle yourself with care
You need time-outs, exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep, fun, medical check-ups, yoga/meditation/mindfulness. Slow down, stay focused and be aware of what’s going on around you. During change, it is very important to be present in the now and not worry about the past or what’s going to happen in the future.
Step 5: D.A.R.E. to change
Assess your motivation and capabilities to change by taking the “DARE”:
Hani concluded by telling the audience that, when they are faced with change, he hopes that they will make it to the summit. He pointed out that, whatever problems we have, they’re small when looked at within the context of the universe, and he gave one last useful take-away, which was the Swahili phrase “Hakuna Matata”, which means “No worries”.
Hani has created a film documentary of his climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, which has been nominated for the Canadian Independent Film Festival.