In Memoriam: Honoring the Memory of Chris Clarke-Epstein, Ep #70


There are many people who impact you deeply as you go through life, but only some who do so more deeply than you know at the time. Chris Clarke-Epstein is one of those people for me. Chris was a unique individual who possessed a movie-worthy personality and style. Her speaking prowess was the kind that captivated audiences before they knew what was happening. She was a chameleon of conversation, artfully adapting the way she interacted with individuals to enable a connection based on who they were and what they had experienced.

Though she is best known for her storytelling and speaking she was also able to get right to the point, but in a way that made the person she was interacting with feel that they were being given the gift of knowledge and insight to be treasured. Our world is a richer place from having Chris in it. We will miss her. 

Putting ideas into action requires change — in yourself and in how you respond

All of us experience times in life when we need to decide if we’re going to bring our new ideas to fruition. If so, we will have to change our current behavior and actions. 

Change is a strange thing, it affects each of us uniquely. Chris Clarke-Epstein made it her life’s work to discover why some people respond to change by stepping up to the challenge while others are trapped in overwhelm and miss the opportunity change provides.

She’s discovered that the measure of success in a person’s life is how they deal with the bends in the road that require change. Do they vacillate and delay out of fear or insecurity, or do they move ahead eager to discover a better future? The time between the two must diminish if we are to be good leaders and it’s our experience that shortens the cycle. Over time and as we grow, we find that what stopped us in our tracks earlier in life becomes something that we know we can get through by gathering our resources and moving ahead.

Organizational change impacts your team in a variety of ways

Leaders need to understand that the people in their organization handle change in a variety of ways. What is more, learning the following about your team can help you guide them artfully and wisely:

Change is bigger in the minds of your team than it is in yours

Your team is typically not in the know about the details surrounding the change you’re proposing. You’ve had time to process the situation and make mental, emotional, and practical adjustments. Your team typically hasn’t. You need to empathize with their experience and lead them along at a rate that they can keep up with. As you do, your team will process the change more healthily and come on board more enthusiastically.

Change is likely your choice, not the choice of your team

As a leader, you need to force yourself back into the role of a follower for the sake of understanding the context within which your team is responding to the change being proposed. They have no control or say in whether the change takes place. It’s being dictated to them, they’ve got to adapt even if they don’t want to. Understanding that reality helps you patiently ask the questions required to understand their journey to the new reality you already see.

Your team needs to understand the benefits of the change that you already see

As a leader, you need to understand that the benefits you see coming from the changes you’re implementing are not internalized by your team — yet. Their motivation and their enthusiasm about the change will grow the more they see the future benefits they will experience. So cast that vision. Keep talking about it. Ensure that your team understands the better future you’re headed to together.

Your team will believe in the need for change the longer and more consistently you talk about it

70% of organizational change initiatives fail. Why? Much of the reason is that the leader fails to consistently cast the vision behind the change and equip and empower the team to accomplish it. A sustained effort will empower change initiatives, convincing the team that it’s really going to happen. So stick with one idea until it’s complete. Don’t let the next seminar or leadership conference you attend derail what you already have in place. If you are constantly bringing new ideas and changes to your people your ideas for change will quickly lose credibility.

These are just a sampling of the wisdom Chris shares in this conversation. It’s one I will treasure for years and am honored I was able to experience. Enjoy!

Resources & People Mentioned

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