What’s Next?! Embrace Change In Your Life and Career

Embrace Change In Your Life and Career
Tom Mendoza

Most people are averse to change. They like to keep things the way they are; they like to stay in their comfort zone.

But great people ask questions like, “What’s next?” and “What am I getting better at?”

Here are three ideas to embrace change in your life and career, and three ways to apply those ideas…

Over my years as a NetApp executive, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of great people, both inside my company and at many other companies around the world. More than any other, one single attribute separates people in the workplace. That’s attitude.

Attitude is critical when it comes to embracing change. Great people are always looking for ways to change; to grow. As I always say, you are either getting better or getting worse: If you’re staying the same you’re getting worse.

That’s why Embracing Change is one of the 5 key components of our company culture.

How To Embrace Change

1. I Don’t Look Back

I’m not one to dwell on the past. Other than noting lessons learned, I just prefer to put my energy into the present.

I’m not a fan of reunions: if I wanted to know these people I would. But I do like to get together with old friends, do something new, and talk about what’s next.

That’s the exciting thing to talk about: what’s coming. Thinking about what’s next is what pushes us forward.

2. Ask Yourself, “What’s Next?”

It opens you to a new world of possibilities. You begin to think bigger. You begin to ask yourself what’s possible, if only you could challenge yourself.

I believe that people often fall short when they dream and set goals for themselves; they underestimate what they’re capable of. They’re afraid to think big; afraid of challenging themselves to greatness.

Attitude is critical when it comes to embracing change. Great people are always looking for ways to change; to grow.

When you ask yourself what’s next, embracing change has to be a part of that or it’s a waste of time. What’s the point of making goals if it doesn’t make you get better, or change something for the better?

3. You Must Be Bold

Be bold when you set your goals. You have to dream big. And then you have to believe in the goal and in your ability to achieve that goal. If you don’t believe and you don’t stretch and you don’t set your aim at aggressively bold goals, you’ve no chance to reach them.

I mentioned attitude earlier, and this is the core of it. You have to have the attitude to allow yourself to overcome the fear of change.

How To Apply My Ideas

4. What About Your People?

I gave a speech for the Marines and the General asked me, “Tom, how do you motivate an unmotivated employee?” I said “I fire them.” Motivating the unmotivated is not my job, hiring motivated people and leading them is.

When we hire, one of the key things we check is their attitude. Will they fit into our culture of embracing change?

I’m not interested in having someone on my team who wants to maintain the status quo. I’m not even interested in someone who wants to do “well.” We aren’t here to do well, we’re here to do something significant: something meaningful.

And that comes about by embracing change and by focusing on what’s next.

5. Embracing Change Can Be Intimidating

This applies whether it’s in your personal or your professional life. As a person or business gets older, they can sometimes become more risk adverse; not willing to make changes.

Be bold when you set your goals. You have to dream big.

I like to say that not taking a risk is, itself, a risk. It comes back to attitude. You can be old at 30 or young at 70. The actual calendar years have little bearing on the attitude that defines a person.

Aging well as a person—or as a company—is based on two things, curiosity and a desire to get better; to excel.

6. How Can You Put This Into a Business Context?

We end meetings with a simple question to ourselves: “What are we getting better at?”

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. When teams come together, they often only focus on the here and now. They try to solve the problem that’s right in front of them: the immediate issue.

So realize that you have to answer, “What are we getting better at?” It begins to change your perception of the problem; you begin to focus on the bigger purpose. And that purpose is constant improvement and change.

Learning from the past and what we’ve accomplished has its place, but the key to growth and success for our company lies in embracing change, not resting on our accomplishments.

Ask yourself this same question at your next meeting. Ask what you’re getting better at. I know you’ll be surprised by how quickly that simple question can bring about positive change.

This post was previously posted in Forbes.


Art by: OutsideFate

Tom joined NetApp in 1994 and was responsible for sales until becoming president in 2000. In 2009 he became vice chairman. Tom has given talks on the power of corporate culture and leadership all over the world to people in such diverse organizations as the U.S. Marine Corps, West Point, CIO forums, Oracle's Leaders Circle, and Stanford University. In 2009 he was the co-recipient with NetApp Chairman Dan Warmenhoven of the Morgan Stanley Leadership Award for Global Commerce. Tom holds a BA degree from the University of Notre Dame and is an alumnus of Stanford University's Executive Business Program. In September 2000 Notre Dame renamed its business school the Mendoza College of Business after an endowment made by Tom and Kathy Mendoza.

  • Tom – Great post. Some of the commentary is self evident, or should be. However, you tie the strands together in a way that shows how we need to be intentional in how we approach, embrace, and leverage change – whether in the workplace or outside of it. I am reminded of one of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, who once said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

  • Pingback: Bonsai, Bodegas, and Boredom – 3 The Boredom Consequence | Road Signs and Blind Spots()

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