This is a guest post by Jill Ratliff.

Change. It’s difficult, scary, challenging, thrilling, and above all, inevitable. Life is change, and change is growth.

In the past decade especially, in order to drive growth, businesses have had to transform themselves—often again and again. Transformation has become the new normal, and so it’s been said that all leadership today is change leadership. It’s become most organizations’ number one competency on their leadership profiles.

At the same time, close to 70% of all large-scale change efforts fail to produce the desired results. Why? It’s usually not the technology or the processes . . . it’s the people. And business leaders are not only responsible for accepting and acting on change themselves, they are expected to lead their teams through it.

There are only two kinds of change: change by choice and change by force. Change by choice means you decided to do it. Change by force means you didn’t decide and likely weren’t asked for your input.

Despite knowing that change is growth and that we grow from adversity, our first impulse when change is forced upon us is to resist. We have to learn, time and again, that what you resist, persists. In other words, the longer it takes you to accept the situation as it currently is, the longer you will stay stuck.

People often talk about “how we get through” change—the way you might think about a dentist appointment. Accepting change, and getting others to accept change, can be like pulling teeth!

And, by the way, you might imagine that change by choice is easy, but that not necessarily so. You accepted that promotion? Great! But once you get into that new job, you might find your boss is not all he was cracked up to be, your budget is too small and your new team isn’t very strong. This doesn’t mean you made a bad decision, only that you have challenges you didn’t anticipate when you leaned into the change.

But, let’s face it, change by force is even more difficult.

There are four ways you can respond to change by force.

Denial: You put your head down and disengage from the process for as long as you can, pretending it isn’t happening.

Resistance: You push back against the change either overtly (openly and vocally refusing to submit to changes) or covertly (quietly sabotaging plans for change).

Acceptance: Submitting to the plans for change despite harboring frustrations and reservations.

Alignment: Opening your mind to the change, getting on board, and bringing your team on board with enthusiasm.

You might start out in denial or feeling resistant and that’s OK. (Although acting on an impulse toward covert resistance is a good way to lose your job). But change doesn’t stop just because we resist it; more likely it will just run roughshod over us. So to “get through” change and help your team negotiate it, try what I call Rapid Rebound.

Step One—Notice: It’s fine and even helpful to take a moment to acknowledge, recognize, and respect that you are facing a challenging moment—whether you chose it or not. By simply recognizing the difficulty of the forthcoming change, you allow yourself to choose self-control and optimism in tackling it.

Step Two—Accept: Stop whatever story you are telling yourself about the change and let go of resistant thinking like “Why did this happen?” or “This shouldn’t happen,” which only perpetuate and prolong the stress of change. Instead, put your faith in the idea that something greater is trying to happen than you are aware of and steer your mind toward a change orientation with such questions as “What are my best steps from here?” and “How do we move forward?”

Step Three—Begin: You don’t have to solve the whole problem right off the bat, but as soon as possible, take one small step in a positive direction. The faster you can do this, the less stress you will endure and the faster you will get back into a better situation. In addition, you will be demonstrating a powerful leadership skill for your team: leading through adversity by example.

By practicing Rapid Rebound, you will build your resilience and may even come to see that change is always in your favor if you know how to grow from it.


About the guest post author:

Jill Ratliff is an Author, Executive Coach, and Leadership Speaker with more than 20 years of Fortune 100 Human Retargets Management experience.  She is author of the new book Leadership through Trust and Collaboration. Jill also is a longtime mentor with Pathbuilders, an organization that helps high-performing women accelerate their careers. Learn more at