For all the time and material I’ve devoted to helping my clients and students manage change, I could not help but note the simplicity and profoundness of the title quote. What makes it even more credible is it is attributed in a recent “People” magazine article to Dame Judith Dench, winner of an Oscar and a Tony Award at age 65! As the current character “M” in the James Bond film series, she likely knows what she is talking about so let’s break it down further!
Coping is generally defined as a reaction to minimize stress or conflict. It conjures up images of someone trying to deal with an uncomfortable situation and possibly surviving to move on to another day or the next event. In the leadership context, it portrays the leader who is overcome by the events surrounding them as their world peppers them with problems and challenges. To forget coping then, leaders must consider taking coping completely out of play as an option to manage in a constantly changing business environment. If a leader’s first reaction is coping, I would suggest they are playing not to lose as a strategy. Coping may keep you from harm’s way in the moment, but little to no progress is made overall.
Whether Dame Judith Dench meant it or not, the choice of words to “Think Adapting” versus simply “Adapt” to complete the sentence is telling. Adapting is much more than reacting or minimizing stressors or conflict. Adaptability begins with an Attitude of continuous change and getting out ahead of change to avoid being a victim of change. With mindsets fully supporting adaptability, leaders can create and effectively communicate their Vision and Strategy to their teams. Leaders who are thinking adaptability are playing to win as opposed to playing not to lose! They are consciously and, more importantly subconsciously adapting to the ever-changing business environment around them.
It is said that change is inevitable, but growth is not. In Max McKeown’s book, “Adaptability” he speaks of 17 rules of successful adaptability. Rule 5 states “Stability is a Dangerous Illusion”. The quest for stability becomes, in its own right, unachievable due to the inevitability of change. The difference in growth occurring or not depends on whether the leaders play not to lose or play to win.
How are you thinking about change?