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Are you ‘frozen’? Or are you ready for change?

I’m writing this sitting at the chart table of a sailing boat, in the midst of circumnavigating the UK and Ireland ( As a result, I’m seeing different places, talking to different people, and thinking about what it takes for towns and cities to thrive, economically and socially.

This morning I was chatting with a yacht broker here in Ipswich, on the East coast of the UK. He says there are not enough second-hand boats on the market. “Do you have an idea why?” I asked. “People are frozen” he replied. “There’s so much uncertainty and change, so in their own world they want to keep everything the same. That means they don’t sell their boat or buy a new one. They keep it, and they keep it in the same harbour they always have.” Business executives concur that seismic change is round the corner. Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends finds 73% (of 7,300 respondents) expecting significant industry disruption in the next three years. That’s up from 26% only last year – a dramatic rise in expectation. They can see the opportunities this could bring, but there’s a risk their employees are less optimistic and are ‘frozen’ as a result.  That’s unwilling to engage with change, let alone to lead that response.

Are you frozen? Am I? None of us can accurately predict the future, but often we have much more power than we believe, to shape our own future. Our own data (from the CareerPulse diagnostic tool) has shown that pro-activity by individuals trumps ‘organisational support’.

I find that encouraging. Yes, we do need to ‘roll with the punches’ and respond to change that we cannot anticipate. Stuff happens. But it is not other people who control our lives. We have more power than we think: first to shape our internal world – working on our attitudes and thoughts – and then to take positive action that will change the future for ourselves and others.

If you’re a manager, this is good news too. You’re not responsible for fixing everything. Your main task is to coach and encourage people to anticipate and respond to change themselves.

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