What’s in it for me?

My son took this photo through a bus window in London. Remarkable really, because when he went to London a few weeks earlier, using buses was not on his agenda. But where he lived to where he travelled daily was a messy walk and tube journey or an hour’s walk. So, he tried the bus, and that change came easily because he soon saw what was in it for him. A view, rather than hurtling through a black hole in the ground; easier and cheaper travel, less standing, less pushing and time to read or just watch the World – win, win, win!

I experienced the “joy” of major change in a series of companies during my career in industry. My guess is that the planned change failed 60 to 70% of the time – generally because the Change Model prioritised process and equipment or systems change, instead of maximising the involvement of people affected. The Model seemed to assume that people would resist, so they were only involved/consulted long into the overall timescale. There was little overt resistance, but lethargy, passive resistance, continuing in the same way as before, all had their day.

No one got people involved early, created committed champions or used viral methods to breed success. So, people couldn’t see what was in it for them.

It’s just not true that “people find change difficult”. That only happens when they don’t see what’s in it for them. We willingly start full-time work, get married, have children and all these involve major change – but mostly we see the benefits.

Do you remember when Covid 19 started and we first saw Chinese people wearing face masks in the street? We thought that was odd – but that didn’t last long did it? Most of us soon understood concern, fear and looking after our own (and others’) health and lives. Continuing living is a fundamental what’s in it for me!

The Pandemic taught us a lot about change – for a while it became the norm and elements of that continue. Official figures from mid-February 2022 showed that, since the start of the Pandemic (in 2020), 250,000 Britons aged between 50 and 65 have left full-time paid work and are not actively seeking new jobs. Experts believe that psychological and emotional “burnout” is largely to blame – middle-age stress living under Covid has altered priorities …………… yes change is afoot, again because people can see what’s in it for them. For those people its not about a hybrid working life but looking at everything differently.

Arguably, for most people, the transition from full-time work into future life (aka retirement) is the biggest change they will have experienced since they started full-time work. The deep root tends to be identity – who am I now? Eddie George, former Governor of the Bank of England, is reputed to have quipped “Retirement – that’s the time you go from Who’s Who to who’s he?”

Although it’s changing slowly, there is a general view that retirement (horrible negative word) is a time of slowing down, eschewing challenge, and taking a bit of a rest. Well it will be if you really want it to be ….. but why would you? This is your opportunity for freedom; to do those things you’ve always wanted to; to be who you want to be! It’s the time to really embrace change because you can see what’s in it for you. (Well, you didn’t think we were going to ditch that theme now, did you?)

Understand yourself, prepare, become clear as to your values, purpose and priorities – what, where, when, with whom? Work on your personal energy. This is the time for drive, fun, happiness – who said that the grass isn’t greener”? It is if you want it to be.