Yesterday is So Yesterday

Yesterday is So Yesterday

As the Chicago spring arrives each year (and leaves a couple of days later, I think), and summer sets in, I can’t help but remember growing up in a small town in Iowa and the memories it brings. The wonderful smell of lilacs and the air after a spring shower. Easter outfits my mother made. The smell of freshly cut grass. And in the summer, the lightning bugs whose lives we cut short putting them into bottles with holes in the lids to let them breathe. (Ha.) Staying out late playing in the streets with neighbors until we could see no more.

It makes one wistful for yesterday. “If only it could be like it was then.” We hear that a lot these days – from people who grew up in a more sheltered world, from politicians who fail to see a different world, from long-time association volunteer and staff leaders, who say – “we’ve never done it that way.”

“Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.” (Anonymous)

Let’s face it. Change happens. Over and over again. Are we ready for it? Do we do what we need to do to accept the way things are – and even better – prepare for what’s to come?

Helen Keller said: The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Planning helps with this – as long as it looks ahead. Leaders who see what can be instead of what used to be are the ones associations look long and hard for – because they don’t say, “I wish it were like it was then.” It isn’t, and it never will be.

So, what to do? There are countless articles, tips, and strategies for making change. Here are the ones I like best – from John Kotter’s Eight Step Process of Successful Change.

1. Create a Sense of Urgency – demonstrate to others that there is an urgent need to change.
2. Creating the Guiding Team – gather the best group of diverse leaders to move you through the change
3. Developing a Change Vision – as with everything, a compelling vision helps everyone see how it can be
4. Communicating the Vision – developing a wide-ranging plan to cover all the bases
5. Removing Barriers & Empowering Others – don’t micromanage it
6. Generating Short Term Wins – remind others along the way of the little wins as you work toward the big ones
7. Don’t Let Up – persistence is a common trait of great leaders
8. Make It Stick – keep improving the process and don’t let others forget where you need to be

There’s a lot more to those eight steps. If you haven’t read his book, do. Or read the fable version: Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber. (Or even better, bring us to your association to do a session about the penguins in Antarctica as they went through those eight steps to deal with change.)

Bottom line? Accept that things change and we can’t go back to those nostalgic days. But we can make today better by working on tomorrow. And start now.

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