Shift is a simple word, yet it has so many possible meanings. Shift is a motion word. It implies change. We shift gears when we drive. We also make life choices that involve shifting about. First you’re right here, then you’re not. That is shift. More importantly, when it comes to leadership, the shift you make may be critical.
My wife and I are blessed with a small army of grandkids, all under the age of 4. When they are together, there is a lot of shifting going on. Getting one or more of them to sit still is almost impossible. They have this natural energy to move. One of the boys, a two year old, loves climbing up in my lap to watch his shows. Yet even when he tries to be focused on the cartoon or program on the screen there is movement. It’s just there.
As we grow older though, the ways we shift and the reasons for a shift take on new significance.
First the Downside
Motion or action does not mean success. I know people who can get very busy and accomplish nothing. I’ve been guilty of that myself. If all your effort has no plan or purpose, you might be shifting for the wrong reasons. Hopping from task to task or even job to job may feel like progress, but in reality, it is not.
Causing change in your personal life or work life just for the sake of change is a problem. Before you decide on a new direction, be sure it is consistent with a plan. Napoleon Hill, in his epic book “Think and Grow Rich”, suggests that only 2 people in 100 have ever designed a life plan.
From many years in coaching people through career change, I learned the vast majority of American workers land jobs out of school just to have a paycheck. Then they get stuck doing something that has nothing to do with their real passion in life. It takes years, if not decades, to realize what the passion should have been. A few fortunate souls make the shift and get aligned with what their heart desires for vocation.
There is great success in finding the right balance between your heart’s affection and your mind’s attention. Be sure you get those in right balance and you will have a far more successful career.
When to Shift
There are the wrong kinds of shifting, then the right ones. The right kind of shift happens when we:
- Realize a conflict has arisen that we must avoid
- Recognize a situation as being immoral, unethical, or illegal
- Feel a need to grow
- Take on a new challenge
Dealing with Conflict
As conflict arises, you might need a shift. Perhaps your mindset needs adjusting. Your attitude about a subject may be the contributing factor to the conflict. As a leader, conflict is not welcome. You need to be the peace maker.
Yes, there may be a critical decision that is all on you. When you make the decision, some conflict might come up. Yet the way you choose to handle it (a shift in mindset) may be the greatest contribution you can make. Draw deep into your inner core. Use your values and leadership principles to set the course, making the shift as smoothly as you can.
Not all of your decisions will be seen as perfect, but you can minimize conflict by having your own willingness to shift your approach as needed without compromising your values and vision.
Facing a Bad Situation
From time to time, you may find yourself inadvertently getting pulled into a circumstance that is either immoral, illegal, or unethical. One of my early mentors in banking was a very senior executive who was a well respected banker. When we brought new loan requests to him, we would review the risk reward factors, but then he would ask “Is there anything about this person or this company that is illegal, immoral or unethical?” You knew he was always going to ask that question. However, it always gave us pause.
I’ve also known business partners who may get into a bind and one or the other person reaches a little too far into this area in hopes of solving the problem. As soon as you sense that a partner is veering off course, you must make the shift to return things to center or abandon the deal. Your reputation is at stake.
If your moral compass (some call it your BS meter) is going wild, check the signals. Avoid the trouble, it’s not worth it. This kind of shift away from destruction is healthy, wise, and prudent.
The Need to Grow
We all have moments in our professional lives where we begin to sense a need to grow. The job is stale. The opportunity is capped. Or you’re just bored. You may need a shift for growth.
Now, I must caution my Millennial readers that this kind of boredom should not set in on a job inside of 90 days. Job opportunities take longer than that to reveal what the job really involves. If you feel bored within 90 days, you made a bad choice to start. It’s not the company or the boss. It is your decision to take the job that needs adjusting. Leave if you must but figure out why you made the bad choice and learn something from that before you go to work somewhere else.
Growth may also come without a job change. You may just feel the need to learn more about your role. You realize you need deeper knowledge of a subject or more technical know-how to perform at a higher level. A growth shift is in order.
Taking on a New Challenge
A shift is required when change happens. Whether the change is in your position or your duties at work. Or maybe it involves relocation. New challenges come in the birth of a child or grandchild. All of the other major life events create change that requires a shift of some sort or another. Making the right shift is critical to having the best possible outcome.
The life shifts we make to handle the changes around us will dictate whether we succeed or fail. Choose wisely my friend.
When was the last time you had to shift? Was it the right kind of shift?