Howdy ya’ll. When she said this to me, a decade of small business consulting lessons all converged into one. I could see it as clearly as the sun shines in the bright Phoenix skies.
We were on “Date Night” and were having a blast with the new Flip Video Camera we bought earlier that day. “What’s the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars she” asked me. I thought about just how I was going to answer this philosphically important question.
I was never a Trekie growing up. Rather, I was more into movies like Star Wars and ET. Star Trek was too….weird..for me to follow.
Unlike Star Wars, I never understood the undercurrents of tension between Spock and Captain Kirk or what it stood for. We were in the movie theater at the luxurious Tempe Marketplace. As I wolfed down the popcorn, enjoying the previews to the new Will Ferrell movie I thought about it and decided the fundamental difference between the two. I informed my girlfriend that Star Wars has a New Agey “Energy” spiritual theme running through it. While Star Trek was always more based on science and logic (thus the stereotype of a “nerdy” following).
While watching the new Star Trek movie we were both on the edge of our seats the entire time. As I became emotionally involved with the developing characters , a new theme slowly became apparent. Later it hit me that it was a theme following the same pattern of change management projects that I’ve noticed separate highly successful business owners and less successful business owners.
During small business change management projects, I’ve noticed that some business owners implement 85%-95% of change management consulting efforts while others implement only 50% or less. Some enjoy more spare time, more profits, and a happier workplace, and some don’t. What’s the difference? What’s the secret ingredient? Its the same one that the USS Enterprise discovered during its biggest moment of crisis.
Spock’s “race” is one that detests emotion. His race is taught from a young age to eliminate emotion from their reality at a very early age. Logic and rationality rule supreme with Vulcans. Jim Kirk, on the other hand, grew up as a maverick. He grew up speaking his mind, stirring things up, ticking people off, and pushing through to reach his goal even when everyone else comes up with “Logical rationality” to stay the course.
(Stop reading this if you haven’t seen the movie)
In the end, Kirk prevails and Spock, the logical one, gives up his reign as the #1 Captain to the more lovable Captain Kirk….the intelligent but more emotional new leader of the crew.
When looking back at all of my change management implementations, I often ask myself what is the difference between those leaders that embrace the change, stick with it, and persevere through the “pain period” and those that don’t. And one of the traits is emotional honesty. The best leaders always challenged and tested me. The best leaders always got temporarily upset at the freight train that was challenging their safe reality and they let me know. The best leaders “Freaked Out” regularly, sometimes daily, as I was slowly helping them redirect the direction of their steady freight liners.
The less successful ones were more “logical” about the change (rightly so). They were more of the mindset of “I can’t wait to see what happens when this is over.” They found it logically interesting, but didn’t invest themselves emotionally in the moment. And emotional investment is the glue that holds change management together.
Change can be scary. And if a business owner doesn’t embrace these feelings of fear, anger, and loss that come with change, that glue is missing. Any sales person will tell you that people buy on emotion, not logic. In the same manner, people change (or don’t change) based upon emotion, not logic. For humans, emotion will almost always win out over logic.
The way to overcome this is for business owners to constantly become more aware of their own “emotional intelligence”. This cemented in my mind, when taking part in a webinar with Dr. Pat Gangi on Friday, an expert on Emotional Intelligence (http://www.cornerstone-intl.com/).
To over-simplify, she explained how there are actually metrics by which people can measure how emotionally intelligent they are and provide ways to improve emotional intelligence. As she talked, I noticed that those business owners that are more emotionally intelligent, are able to embrace change and take their companies to the next level. Those that aren’t as emotionally intelligent, still do well with change, but not as well as the others.
After the webinar, I asked Dr. Gangi, “Is there evidence that emotionally intelligent employees require more money to hire and retain than less emotionally intelligent employees. Her answer shocked me:
“High EQ people definitely earn more. A survey released in February 2009 by Talent Smart showed that people with high EQs make an average of $29,000 per year more than people with low EQs. On average, every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary.”
I can not prove it, but from personal experience, I can testify that the same percentages apply to business owners navigating change management initiatives.
As a business analyst, MBA, and business owner, I obviously understand the value of logic, analysis, and probabilities. These are fundamentals for successful change management and long-term business ownership. But as a business owner, the ability to allow yourself to feel and comfortably express the negative emotions involved in changing an already successful business, is an important intangible to reaping the most out of a change management initiative. One of my Phoenix clients of four years is about to enjoy his 3 straight year on the Inc. 5000 as a result of his ability to emotionally invest in each change management project he undertakes to constantly improve his company.
So we left the movie theatre after two hours of classic movie-making, endlessly talking about how cool the movie was, and discussing the implications it suggested in our own lives. Without boring my wonderful girlfriend with the business implications, I hypothesized: Much like the USS enterprise, through becoming aware of, and embracing the fear of the unknown, business owners are more likely to “Live Long and Prosper” (Sorry, but I had to say it.)
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