Change is What You Make of It

by  John E. Smith  |  Change Management
Change is What You Make of It

What does it means when someone makes an abrupt decision to almost completely change our professional direction without doing all that careful introspection and reflection stuff, without considering the options or alternatives, and with little thought to logistical realities or the possibilities for success?

My wife recently became a licensed real estate agent, a career for which she has been preparing most of her adult life and one that fits her like a glove, uses her considerable knowledge and skills artfully, and is simply the best work choice for her that I can imagine. The woman is thoroughly and enthusiastically “into it,” as they say. I was extremely supportive of her decision to leave the security of internal and steady employment, with those regular paychecks, essential benefits, and corporate logistical and technical support, because I knew this was the right decision for her.

On the other hand, I have not had the slightest interest in anything to do with houses, housing, or real estate. I do not watch television shows about real estate agents, series that depict house flippers, or even those that help buyers and sellers understand the process. My interests, background, and talents all lie in other areas … or so I thought.

As she went through the educational process to pass the real estate license examination and the concentrated training program provided by her agency, two things became clear:  First, she is indeed in the best place work-wise that she can be, and second, she was overwhelmed by the rapidly evolving technology around online presence, social media, and other aspects of our modern digital world that are changing the real estate industry.

Well, I know technology and social media, so I volunteered to help her become the successful real estate agent that I know she will be … my “small” contribution to helping her shine.  Since I was working away at building a coaching practice around helping folks navigate change and had just earned a group coaching certification, I thought that my skills and knowledge might help her in any number of ways.

Then we had a little chat.  Here is a relatively accurate representation of our pivotal conversation just over one month ago:

She:  “You know, I think it would help if you were licensed too, so you could talk to folks about buying or selling their house too.”

He:  “Hmmm … I hadn’t thought about doing that.  Yeah, makes sense.  OK:)”

Yes, I made a decision to spend thousands of dollars and almost completely change my professional identity that quickly. This is NOT how the change process is supposed to work.

In less than 30 days, I have studied for and passed the examination and am working my way through the training program, while happily helping create our marketing tools, researching properties, conducting open houses, and doing all the other things that successful real estate agents  do. Terms such as listing agent, farming, sphere of influence, and so on are now part of my lexicon. I notice houses for sale by their owners and plan where I would place open house signs in an area to drive traffic to a specific doorstep.   I accept the fact that I no longer have weekends free.

I engaged in no lengthy reflection or consideration of either alternatives or realities, but quite simply jumped at the chance for this change.

Change is a well-researched subject optimally viewed as a clearly rational process …

Most change models identify some number of distinct, logical, and linear steps to take when engaging in change. Some of us have made our livings by convincing folks that these organized and logical ways to move ahead exist and that we can help someone move through the change process in a more orderly fashion by knowing and using them.

Most change models emphasize clearly identifying your best alternatives, weighing them carefully for a while, and making a decision for forward motion based on some well-stated and specific criteria.

My decision does not fit this description.

While I feel quite comfortable with my decision,  I am planning to incorporate some aspects of my preexisting career into the new venture. My coaching and presentation skills apparently have application in this particular sales process. Maybe that is my way of maintaining some security while I move into an uncertain future, but I am finding all manner of ways to use past skills and knowledge in this new venture.

All this has made me very curious about change, fast and slow.

Have you ever just “jumped” at something big?

Do you feel the steady and paced change is more effective or do you prefer a heavy reliance on intuition?

What are your reactions to my little tale of abrupt and comprehensive change?

Please share how you have experienced change and what has worked best for you.

About The Author

Articles By john-smith
I enjoy helping people learn and grow through intentional, strategic, and social interventions. I coach, teach, train, facilitate, organize, write, speak, design, and lead at the intersection of leadership, learning, and human behavior. I am a CCE Board Certified Coach (BCC) with specializations in both Leadership/Business and Life/Personal coaching. My primary blog is The Strategic Learner on Wordpress.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Mary C. Schaefer  |  28 Jun 2016  |  Reply

John, I love this story. I love that you shared this story. I think it is so important for people to see different ways of making decisions – and that they can exist in the same person!

I like to think things through, do research, weigh options and prepare. I can also make what some would consider a heavy decision in a moment. It throws my friends a curve sometimes. What they don’t realize it that the decision fits perfectly with something I have been thinking about for a long time (and may not have verbalized) OR IT JUST FEELS RIGHT. I count on my body a lot. It tells me whether I need to pause or act.

John, this is such an excellent post, giving us so much to consider about the nature of managing change.

John E. Smith  |  28 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Mary:)

Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful and considered words.

I completely agree that our rational and spontaneous decisions are closer aligned than we sometimes think. I have been thinking about selling as a human function for a long time and have evolved from the position of “I would never sell things for a living” to “I might sell something, but only on my own terms”, through to “We all sell and what we sell is ourselves.”

Are you familiar with Dan Pink book “To Sell Is Human”? I’m just now reading it and it makes very good sense, especially in light of my recent shift.

On another note, I have been buoyed by the reality that the realty group we have both joined aspires to be a center of excellence and their training includes references to folks like Stephen Covey and others who I did not expect to encounter here in a business where the goal is to help people spend money.

Maybe this is not as big a jump as I thought it would be:)


Mary C. Schaefer  |  01 Jul 2016  |  Reply

Yes, I actually saw Daniel Pink talk about “To Sell is Human.” I need to dig into that book again.

I am so glad to hear about your evolution around selling, and that the realty organization you are with sounds like they have a great foundation.

Thank you for sharing your stories and growth with us.

Jane Perdue  |  30 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Good luck on your new endeavor, John! I put myself through college selling real estate!

John E. Smith  |  30 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Thanks, Jane:)

Wow … and I’m just trying to pay the bills with it. How did you move from real estate to where you are now?


steve layman  |  01 Jul 2016  |  Reply

Welcome aboard! Thanks to your decision, our industry just got stronger and better!

John E. Smith  |  02 Jul 2016  |  Reply

Thanks, Steve:)

Glad to have an additional point of common focus.


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