I was sitting in my office listening the presentation from one of our outside consultants about the fast pace of current technology. “Our world has gone from where big ate small, to where quick eat slow,” said the speaker. It reminded me how much companies today need to have people capable of not only reacting to change but being the agent of change.
Google says there are 48 million hits on this topic so it must be important. I think the more popular term today is game changer.We see this not only being valid externally, but even internally where smaller departments compete for their ideas or processes to be implemented with larger more established ones.
How can you recognize a game changer in your company? Ever better, how can you honestly evaluate yourself to determine if you are a game changer?
When I was in my early twenties, a bunch of us decided to go rafting. As we were standing next to fast pacing current it reminded me of life in general – fast and unpredictable. As one of the boats passed by with ten people in it, they hit one of the steeper falls, the boat flipped over and they all disappeared under the water. Our jaws dropped wide open and as we waited to see the outcome. Ten seconds later, heads started to pop up twenty yard from the steep fall. We all looked at each other and said “Forget it… this is crazy!” Luckily our skipper said calmly:” As long as you paddle and move the boat faster then the current, you can control the boat and current will have minimal impact on you. Nevertheless, if you don’t paddle faster than the current, you are at mercy of the river. Who knows, maybe you will be ok and maybe not.” For some reason that stuck with me and I have viewed my work life through this rafting lesson. Those that go through their life carried by markets, culture and societies are at its mercy, but those who paddle, create markets, change culture and improve societies. They are the ones whose boat stays straight during crises, as did our own boat few hours later. What a lesson!
In this faced paced life, changes occur because there are change makers that influence our business. We might not know who they are, but they surely drive the boat faster then we can react to the current of this river called market. Naturally, we want to get into the game. We want to make the difference, and we want to be noticed as game changers.
I think it has to do with something within us that that tells us that our lives are not ordinary. There is something deep inside of us that wants us to be and viewed as great. Although all evidences point the fact that game changer are doers, the issue starts when we start fantasying about being great as oppose to doing something that will bring great results. We develop a sense of self worth that is either unrealistic or unfounded.
It is called illusory superiority, a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities. For example, 87% of MBA students at Stanford believe their leadership skills are above median, or 25% puts themselves in top 1%. Do you see an obvious problem with that? Apparently, 80% of drivers also think they are in top 50% of drivers as well.
Here are five signs you need to observe if you ever want to become one:
Sign #1: You are an expert in your field
Second king of Israel wrote in 10 century BC: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Game changes have tendencies to be highly immersed in the area of their expertise. They are not only continuous students of their occupation field, but also teachers (sharers of information) and great partners to his/her peer group.
When was the last time someone asked for your expert advice or asked to create something that was viewed important and critical? Do leaders in your organization share information with you and ask for your opinion? Are you a ‘wanted person’ in your community? Is what you know easily learned searching Google?
Sign #2: You believe in absolutes
Game changers believe that some things are absolutely right and some very wrong. They know the difference when someone misspeaks as opposed to lies. They observe and seek those who plan for greater good versus those who scheme for selfish reasons. Because of that, they firmly seek strategic view and hold firm beliefs of what needs to be accomplished. They are seekers of truth and they cling to it even at high cost. As Martin Luther King once said: ”I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Game changes believe in absolute good and they are willing to endure injustice for it.
Are you someone who always looks for compromise? Do you believe that all things in life and business are in gray area.
Sign #3: You are not afraid to lose what you have
I remember listening to the story, I believe written by Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho, who describes a ship caught in such fierce storm that sailors couldn’t do anything but to hold on to save their lives. It was one of those 17 century ships armed with cannons. At one point, one of the cannons got loose and it was hitting both sides of the ship as the ship swung from one side to another. Sailors were all holding on to their lives but realized that soon the loose cannon would create a hole in the ship and they would die. The question was obvious:”Who is going to let go, risk their life and secure the cannon in this storm.” The brave man who let go to save the ship was a game changer.
We see it all the times in corporate America. Folks that managed staying out of conflict, just enough to convict people they are easy to work with. They do just what they were told to stay with the company and may even move up the ladder. They want a seat at the table; they want to be a person of influence, but as Scripture says ”In the public square they have nothing to say,” and “even a fool is viewed as wise as long as it keeps his mouth shot.” They are afraid that they will lose that position they waited for so long to obtain, so they don’t lead, they don’t take risks or innovate. Eventually they will arrive at the point in their career which they feared the most – becoming irrelevant.
Next time you see injustice done at work, or people spread lies, will you stand for those unfairly affected.
Sign #4: You are not liked by everyone
Funny, as I was writing this article, a song came on the radio my boys were listening and lyrics started like this:”Isn’t it amazing how a man can find himself alone… He climbs on up the hill…He looks back at the crowd and says ‘I am a difference maker’.”
Apostle Paul wrote two thousand years ago to make every effort to live in peace with all, but he never assumed he will be liked along the way. He knew better. Difference makers make change. The majority of people don’t like the change. Here in lies the conflict, especially to those who will lose financial, social or any other influence for change. Game changers often find themselves alone, abandoned by others, yet it is their lives we celebrate throughout history.
Do you claim to be a balanced person, who can work with anyone.
Sign #5: You teach and build into others
Admiral Grace Hopper, once said:” The most important thing I’ve accomplished is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, “Do you think we can do this?” I say, “Try it.” And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”
Game changers care about people, their progress; they teach, support and build into others. They don’t do it for money, or recognition, but simple because they love people. After all, true game changers know that everything they have they received, so they simply pay forward. Down deep inside game changers know they were meant to serve people.
Is there anyone in your life that could use your help today? Do you believe that people need help regardless of their circumstances?
Some of the questions are not easy to honestly answer. But remember, nobody takes medicine unless they don’t think something is wrong with them, and no game changer fights for change if they think everything is right in the world. The first step in being a game changer is to honestly evaluate yourself and others.
Funny, most people that fight change ultimately have to change anyways, but unfortunately for them on somebody else’s terms. As Jack Welch said:”Change before you have to.” There are game changers out there that are shaping our lives. Are you one of them? – Dominik Dumancic