Petty Officer David Hennessy is a 29 year old, single with no dependents, American Sailor, who hails from the great city of Chicago. Taking a varied path that did not directly lead to service in our Navy, but did lead directly to the Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Rating, he has been wearing the uniform for four years and aspires to wear it for as long as our Nation allows. He is committed to serving in the most technical areas within our Navy and Intelligence Community, while also considering the merits of a commission as a means of reaching his potential and helping others to do the same. When not serving our great Nation, he is exploring his passion as a self-proclaimed billiard aficionado, actively competing on the regional, state, and national level. Just as in all aspects of life, he remains a student and purest of the game, seeking to learn as much as he can and respecting tradition along the journey.
For the first twenty years of my life I occupied ten different homes, spanning five distinctly different towns. Needless to say, it became apparent to me at a young age that change was going to be an integral and constant part of my life. As a younger man, it would have been easy for me to attribute tough times in my life to constant change. However, as I approach the next intersection in my life, I can confidently say that it was all for the best.
For some, it is easy to face change; however, for most others the onset of change is akin to an uninvited storm approaching on the horizon. Change is not only an integral part of life, but also promotes growth and ignites dormant intrinsic personal traits. Having recently been assigned to an organization going through a “growth spurt”, I wonder whether it is by design or happenstance. One thing for certain is that things are about to change… I have seen searching looks in the eyes of frightful peers, abstinence and doubt embodied by antagonists, and others who refuse to acknowledge the imminent by burying their proverbial “heads in the sand”. As an outsider looking in, this could be perceived as either an obstacle – or an opportunity.
In a fixed environment with black and white expectations, creativity is often stifled and individuals lose the ability to think outside the box. The swift hand of change can ignite creative thinking and open the window for new opportunities. As we are bombarded by the words “sequester”, spending cuts, and reorganization on a daily basis – keep in mind that growth is more than change; it is an indicator that you are doing things correctly and moving in a positive direction; embrace it!
You’ve been thrown to the sharks of your new environment, and they smell blood in the water – now what?! Don’t panic, you can overcome the seemingly eminent onslaught by combating naysayers and learning to embrace challenges.
“I hate the fact that I’m not in charge of anyone.”
“I can’t stand it when we have to do things differently than we’ve always done them.”
“My leadership doesn’t see potential in me for difficult assignments, so I’m stuck in this position.”
Many of us have heard these or similar phrases proclaimed by our peers. In order to overcome these common stigmas we need to remain vigilant. This is done effectively by staying positive, setting the example, and continually embracing a culture that accepts change. When we are confronted with individuals occupying this mindset, let’s instead suggest interpreting it as a challenge:
“I love the challenge of creating new leadership opportunities for myself and others.”
“This is a challenging opportunity for me to display my talent and develop new skills.”
“I invite the challenge of creating meaningful tasks, rather than having to be told what to do.”
It can also be difficult to integrate to a new team when the proverbial bar is set based upon preconceived notions. In order to fulfill these expectations create opportunity by “championing the cure”, and leaving previous achievements in the past. It is easy to be a critic of an organization or team – but it is difficult to proactively shape things for the better. We should focus not on the change itself, but on the things which need to be done in order to arrive there. Don’t be concerned with the ailment when the cure is at hand. Previous accomplishments can help advance your career; however, when you walk through the door to work with your new team – leave the credit behind you. Success isn’t measured by individual accomplishments, but by sustained dedication to continual improvement.
If we were to go back in time and meet the man or woman who coined the phrase “…you never have a second chance to make a good first impression”, we would be met by someone plagued by a static existence in a fixed environment. As leaders, we are afforded the opportunity to make exceptional first impressions on a regular basis – through embracing change, adapting to new environments, and creating opportunities.