As the end of each year draws near, people often reflect on the successes and failures of the past and the possibilities for the months to come.
Earlier this month, the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop celebrated its 20th anniversary. One of the general sessions focused on change, and Jennifer Garrett of JG Consulting Services LLC in Dowling, Mich., challenged the audience to “choose to make a difference” as they move forward in their personal and professional lives.
She outlined five behaviors she has observed in difference makers. Regardless of whether your reflections turn to personal, family, or farm issues, I’m extending her challenge to you. Consider how you might incorporate these behaviors into your future.
According to Garrett, people that make a difference:
1. Understand and commit to their purpose.
2. Understand and leverage the forces of change.
3. Invest time and energy into what can be.
4. Seek alignment and integration when making a change.
5. Seek to continuously learn and improve.
First and foremost, you must establish your purpose. Once you identify what matters most to you, making intentional choices becomes easier and you become more focused and committed to your purpose.
The second behavior is understanding the forces of change and using those forces to accomplish change. For change to occur, the inertia of the status quo must be overcome. Forces opposing resistance to change are dissatisfaction with the status quo, a vision for change, and a believable plan for taking the first steps toward the vision that is accepted by stakeholders.
Vision is a clear picture of where you want to be in the future.
People who choose to make a difference choose to invest their time and energy into what can be, rather than what is.
At the same time, most of us are working with other people, whether that is family members, business partners, employees, or clients. Change that is forced on us is much more difficult to accept than change that we choose.
So, take the time to discuss the vision with others that will be affected. Allow time and revision of the plan so that there is buy-in from the key people involved. Engagement and collaboration with people affected by the change are vital to affecting lasting results.
A fifth core behavior Garrett called out is the willingness to learn and improve. Difference makers are proactive, curious, and well-connected both within and outside of their primary industry.
For a more thorough discussion of this topic, click on the link to read Dr. Garrett’s paper.