Navigating the Change Curve

Disruption is anything that interrupts our everyday normal. And while sometimes disruption can be welcomed, it can also create frustration, fear, and judgment. Almost always, disruption creates the need for change.

So let’s start there. We all have perceptions of change. Take a moment to consider this question.

Your Perceptions


If change were a motorcycle, would riding it feel:

  • Terrifiying
  • Exhilarating
  • Necessary
  • Confusing
  • Something to avoid
  • Other

While your answer to this question potentially reveals something about your perception of change, it’s important to recognize that there is no wrong answer! 

We all have perceptions about change that are based on our past experiences-which can make any kind of change a bit challenging.

The Change Curve

A lot has been done to study the stages of change. The most common model includes four stages of change: Denial, Resistance, Exploration, and Commitment. Change starts with an ending and moves towards a new beginning. 

Let’s take a closer look at this curve to see how most people journey through change. Select each of the TABS to discover more.

There are a couple of key things to note about the Change Curve.

  • We all move through the four stages, even when we initiate change, but we may move through each stage at a different rate of speed.
  • The road is not a one-way street. It’s possible for individuals to move from Pity City to Happy Valley and back to Pity City again.

Leading Others Through Change

If you lead others, you’ll want to pay attention to where your employees are on the change curve. You’ll most likely be a step or two ahead of your team, but recognize that individuals will go through each stage. Your job is to inspire them move to forward and gain momentum on their way to Phase 4: Commitment.

Remember, your employees look to you for #leadership. Your own emotions are contagious. How can you spark #curiosity and #inspiration for greatness? #emotional intelligence

Take some time to reflect on the disruption you are experiencing. Where are you on this change curve?

Jot down the specific thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. Recognize your feelings as real and allow yourself to experience them. 

As you consider each of your feelings, what message are they conveying to you? Perhaps you are feeling helpless. That message might be informing you to talk with someone about what you are experiencing. Or maybe it’s a message to focus on what you can control.

In order for you to continue to move forward through each stage, what new thoughts might impact how you feel about this situation? How can you use some optimistic thinking to see the possibilty?

Share this map with someone else that is experiencing the same change. Where is he/she on the change curve map? What thoughts and feelings is he/she experiencing? How can you support each other?

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