Our bodies are brilliant. They provide us with built in mechanisms to protect us. We sweat to cool off when we’re hot. We shiver to warm up when we’re cold. We go into numbing shock when we encounter serious pain. When we have no food, our metabolisms slow down to maximize our stores. New experiences always bring a little fear in the form of butterflies in the stomach or ice in the veins — which is the body’s code for, “You might want to think about this for a second, before you tie that bungee cord around your ankles and jump off this bridge.”
The common thread of this protection, if you think about it, is homeostasis. The body wants to keep us at our set points: 98 degrees, comfortable, nourished, safe. It doesn’t want us to change.
And this is pretty phenomenal, right? It’s like having a guardian angel.
Still, all of the examples I listed above are things that we really do need protection from… but, what happens when we actually need the change more than we need the protection?
Most meeting stakeholders seek change as they create their meeting objectives, strategy and content. The reason for the meeting is always change-injected, a ‘trying to get from here to there.’ For instance:
- to inspire
- to boost sales
- to introduce new management
- to launch a new product
- to improve company morale
Experience shows me that coming by this change, even though its intention is good, is challenging to achieve. Especially in strong corporate cultures.
Switch ‘change’ for ‘cold’. The core of a company culture reacts just like the body, quick to protect itself, ‘shivering’ to bring everything back to the comfort of how it’s always been and always will be. And with everyone huddled together to boot— so change has to break through the individual and the collective shiver.
Well, how do you react to a sudden change in temperature? Most of us recoil when a 20 degree blast hits our warm bodies. But when the air drops degree by degree, a slow slide from late summer to early fall, the change gets right by us. Suddenly, we look around and it’s September and we’re reaching for a sweater, not for protection, but for the ability to enjoy the cool air…and relish in our wonderful new climate.
image credit: Thirl