No matter what business you are in… one thing is certain: Change is constant!
If you’re not up for navigating the winds of change – you’re probably not cut out for running your own business. This post makes a powerful connection between your basic needs and creating changes in your business.
Human Need 1: Certainty/Comfort
The first human need is the need for Certainty. It’s our need to feel in control and to know what’s coming next so we can feel secure. It’s the need for basic comfort, the need to avoid pain and stress, and also to create pleasure. Our need for certainty is a survival mechanism. It affects how much risk we’re willing to take in life—in our jobs, in our investments, and in our relationships. The higher the need for certainty, the less risk you’ll be willing to take or emotionally bear. This need is integral to your level of “risk tolerance” in every area of your life.
Human Need 2: Uncertainty/Variety
Do you like surprises? If you answered “yes,” you’re kidding yourself! You like the surprises you want. The ones you don’t want, you call problems! But you still need them to put some muscle in your life. You can’t grow muscle—or character—unless you have something to push back against. This need is integral to your level of “freedom and adventure” in every area of your life.
Human Need 3: Significance
We all need to feel important, special, unique, and needed. So how do some feel significance? By earning billions of dollars, or collecting academic degrees—distinguishing yourself with a master’s or a PhD. You can build a giant Twitter following. Or you can go on The Bachelor or become the next Real Housewife of Orange County. Some do it by putting tattoos and piercings all over themselves and in places we don’t want to know about. You can get significance by having more or bigger problems than anybody else. “You think your husband’s a dirt bag, take mine for a day!” Of course, you can also get it by being more spiritual (or pretending to be).
Spending a lot of money can make you feel significant, and so can spending very little. We all know people who constantly brag about their bargains, or who feel special because they heat their homes with cow manure and sunlight. Some very wealthy people gain significance by hiding their wealth. Like the late Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and for a time the richest man in America, who drove around Bentonville, Arkansas in his old pickup, demonstrating he didn’t need a Bentley—but of course, he did have his own private fleet of jets standing by.
Significance is also a money maker—that’s where my dear friend Steve Wynn has made his fortune. The man who made Las Vegas what it is today knows people will pay for anything they believe is “the best,” anything that makes them feel special, unique or important, anything that makes them stand out from the crowd. He provides the most exclusive, luxurious experiences imaginable in his casinos and hotels—they are truly magnificent and unmatched in the world. By the way, this need is connected to your level of “effort” and what you value in every area of your life.
Human Need 4: Love & Connection
The fourth basic need is Love and Connection. Love is the oxygen of life; it’s what we all want and need most. When we love completely we feel alive, but when we lose love, the pain is so great that most people settle on connection, the crumbs of love. You can get that sense of connection or love through intimacy, or friendship, or prayer, or walking in nature. If nothing else works, you can get a dog. This need is connected to your sense of “connection, family and relationship” in every area of your life.
These first four needs are what I call the needs of the personality. We all find ways to meet these—whether by working harder, coming up with a big problem, or creating stories to rationalize them.
The last two are the needs of the spirit. These are more rare—not everyone meets these. When these needs are met, we truly feel fulfilled.
Human Need 5: Growth
If you’re not growing, you’re dying. If a relationship is not growing, if a business is not growing, if you’re not growing, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, how many friends you have, how many people love you—you’re not going to experience real fulfillment. And the reason we grow, I believe, is so we have something of value to give. This need is connected to your desire to “learn” in every area of your life.
Human Need 6: Contribution
Corny as it may sound, the secret to living is giving. Life’s not about me; it’s about we. Think about it, what’s the first thing you do when you get good or exciting news? You call somebody you love and share it. Sharing enhances everything you experience. This need is integral to your sense of “generosity and giving” in every area of your life.
Life is really about creating meaning. And meaning does not come from what you get, it comes from what you give. Ultimately it’s not what you get that will make you happy long term, but rather who you become and what you contribute will.
Thanks Tony – your discussion on human needs never gets old for me, it’s always a wonderful thought provoker.
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How Your Unmet Needs Drive Changes In Your Business
What was true more than 2,000 years ago is just as true today. We live in a world where “business as usual” is change. Whether you’re working on a new project, better marketing, or making technology improvements to stay ahead of your competition, change is constant and we must learn to face it, deal with outcomes and navigate it to stay in business.
Whether you’re considering a small change to one or two processes, or a system wide change to how you approach clients, packaging and pricing, to scrapping your starter business and starting fresh for Business 2.0, it’s common to feel uneasy and intimidated by the scale of the challenge change brings.
Even if you are aware that the change needs to happen, knowing where you stand in terms of your own basic needs, and then seeking to understand where others resonate with theirs is a good start.
When you examine your own needs and understand what need is yet unmet that is driving the desire to make a change, you’re on a good trajectory. After all, a compelling unmet need, is just another word for a desire. Understanding that as a motivating factor will be a cornerstone to your success that awaits.
Once your driving unmet need is understood, you must check in with your own beliefs about the pending change. You must believe that change is possible, and you may require evidence or experience to shift a set belief. Don’t underestimate the power of your current beliefs to keep you where you are. Beliefs are powerful, and often what stand in the way of you making necessary changes in your life. Sometimes beliefs show up as fear.
The next two levels of change require you to check in with your willingness and readiness factors. You must be willing to do what it takes to make the change. Resistance is any opposing force that will show up if you do not understand the cost of staying where you are and what the pay-off may be. Your readiness for change is related to the resources [time, knowledge, capability, budget, time, skill, experience etc.] to make the change happen. Sometimes you’ll have them all within your own amazing bag of tools, tricks and resources… and other times, you’ll need some help overcoming the resistance and readiness by assembling some helpers.
If you feel stuck or stalled out on the road of change and need help gaining perspective and shifting some set beliefs that may be in your way, now’s an excellent time to work with a business coach.
7-Step Model To Manage Change In Your Small Business
Where do you start? Whom do you involve? How do you see it through to the end?
There are many theories about how to “do” change. Many originate with leadership and change management gurus, one of whom is John Kotter. A professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, “Leading Change.”
I have looked at many change models and have developed this 5 step model to adapt it to small business owners. Take a look and see how these steps relate to the changes ahead of you.
Step 1: Create Urgency
It’s important to create timelines to invoke motivation and set priorities. It’s even more important to develop a sense of urgency around the change ahead.
How you can create urgency for your change in business:
- Lay out a plan
- Identify potential obstacles and opportunities
- Project potential losses if you don’t implement the change – What do you face loosing or missing
- Spend significant time and energy building urgency, before moving onto the next steps. Don’t panic and jump in too fast because you don’t want to risk further short-term losses – if you act without proper preparation, you may not make it through to the end of the process.
Step 2: Create A Support Coalition
When you’re in a bigger company, this includes involving other people and convincing them that change is necessary. To manage change as a small business, you need to bring together a coalition, or team of experts to support you in a variety of areas. Once assembled, your “change support coalition” needs to work as a team to maintain the momentum around the change.
How you can form a powerful support coalition for your change in business:
- You may need a marketing or business coach, a web designer, a graphics designer, a developer, a bookkeeper, and a virtual assistant to create your powerful change coalition.
- Share your plan with them, and ask for an emotional commitment from these key people.
- If they need to work together, it’s important to host a way for them to connect and collaborate in your absence. Especially if these people are supporting your business, consider paying them for their time to contribute and collaborate together. Better planning saves revisions in the long run.
- Build out your team for weak areas, and ensure that you have a good mix of people.
Step 3: Create & Communicate Your Vision
When you first start thinking about change, you’ll likely have more great ideas than solutions floating around your head. Beginning to link concepts to an overall vision, everyone can understand it and see their piece of the puzzle. And, when you share a vision, people relate and then the directives they’re given tend to make more sense.
How you can create a shared vision for your change in business:
- Determine the values your business has that are central to the change.
- Develop a short summary (one or two sentences) that captures what you “see” as the future of your organization.
- Share your plan to execute your vision.
Step 4: Rapidly Remove Resistance
One of the aspects of being a leader and manager of others that I truly enjoyed was how I ‘defined’ my job as a manager/leader. I used to say that it was my job to remove obstacles for my direct reports that stood in the way of their success. What is true in big business, in this case, is also true for smaller businesses. The more obstacles you remove that stand in the way of implementing change, the better off you are.
How you can remove obstacles to be sure your change in business is implemented:
- Employ the best people you can for the job you ask them to do.
- Develop job and task descriptions necessary so everyone knows what is expected of them and can deliver on those expectations.
- Reward people in the way of acknowledgment for doing well.
- Respond quickly to their concerns and calls for assistance.
Step 5: Act & Implement
Nothing motivates more than success. Get on task and get busy. Set your team in motion and get out of their way.
How you can remove obstacles to be sure your change in business is implemented:
- Create short-term targets that will get you to your long-term goal.
- Set a budget, then reset a ‘don’t exceed’ budget and share it with your team. This will communicate expectations and the levels of authority and decision-making they can handle without your help and intervention. This one step can save you tons of phone calls, rework and costs.
Kotter argues that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change.
Step 6: Celebrate
Each success requires a little sense of celebration. So often we focus on what is NOT done and incomplete, that it’s really critical to focus on what we accomplish. Celebrate often.
How you can celebrate your change:
- Set goals and acknowledge both wins and misses.
- Continue building on the momentum you’ve achieved.
- Create something special: a spa day, a pedicure – and share it with your coalition.
Step 7: Evaluate & Improve
Evaluation helps you improve everything. It is through evaluation that you gain awareness and figure out what is missing. After your change is implemented, watch and listen for feedback that offers opportunities to build on what went right and identify what you can improve.
How you can evaluate and improve any change in business:
- Review your vision and plan against the goals, obstacles you encountered and achievements made.
- After every win, analyze what went right, and what needs improving.
- Meet with your team to discuss any feedback they have, or ideas for continuous improvement.
- Study Kaizen to understand the value of incremental improvements.
- Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition.
Getting comfortable with change begins as an inside process. Understanding basic needs as key drivers to change will then help you navigate the sea of changes ahead, not yet presented, and continue to ride the ripples of lasting success in your business.
Your Sanity Assignment
Consider the six human needs in the face of a big change ahead of you. Which need is yet unmet that is driving the change? What does this unmet need actually need to be realized? Will your proposed business change deliver on fulfilling your unmet need? What do you notice about the need itself with this new perspective?
Review a recent change you made to your business against the seven steps above. What went well? What would you focus on next time you make a change that was missing? Where’s the opportunity for improvement for you going forward?