Why Taking The Exit Door Is The Key To Surviving In Fast Changing Times

shutterstock_141017527It was 3 a.m. in my hotel room in New York. The fire alarm shattered the calm. What happened next stays with me vividly, every day. It sums up why so many fail to survive life threatening crises, or survive the change underway in business. Here’s why.

I thought the alarm would stop. It didn’t. All on our floor headed out into the corridor, dazed and scared. Someone screamed. I smelt smoke. The fire escape beckoned. But I stopped. I did not want to go through that door. And that hesitation sums up why so many fail to adapt to the tsunami of change underway in business. It’s summed up in an expression I heard last week. Simple. Powerful. Says it all. Here it is. Read it, embrace it, and survive.

Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.

I read somewhere that people won’t take the ‘Exit’ option because they do not know where it will take them. And this is exactly what I felt in New York that night: “Where do those stairs go, will it lead me to safety, or will it trap me with even less chance of escape and survival?”

To stay a step ahead of change- to disrupt ourselves more than our most disruptive client is disrupting us- we have to have courage. And my company is fortunate to have a cadre of brave leaders across our group.

Change is really, really, really hard to do. I think so anyway. It is for me.

But change can also be awesomely inspiring. Really. To take risk. To push into the uncomfortable. To take your foot off one base if you are to get to the next. To take that Exit door when you don’t know exactly where it is going to lead.

If the rate of change outside an organisation is faster than within, the end is near. Same applies to us- our offers to our employers and clients must keep evolving. We are only as good as our NEXT result! . We have to keep changing, or they will change us… we’ll be out. Don’t let that happen!

Feel the fear. Embrace it.

And back yourself- take that bold step….dash to second base… step through that Exit door. Chances are, you’ll be fine. Seriously. Keep moving. Keep believing. Keep trusting. I am totally up for it. Are you?

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15 Responses to Why Taking The Exit Door Is The Key To Surviving In Fast Changing Times

  1. Disrupter. February 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Chris – this could not have been better timing.

    Thank You.

  2. Gerhard Myburgh February 12, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Very true! Another really great insight into how to stay relevant in a time of constant change.

    • Chris Savage February 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

      Thanks Gerhard!

  3. Jane Young February 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    A great reminder Chris! Sometimes the rate of change in our industry can indeed be terrifying but the most memorable and exhilarating moments of my career so far have been working alongside fearless leaders who embraced change, kept moving, pushed harder and inspired Clients to take risks.

    • Chris Savage February 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Thanks Jane!

  4. KerryAnn Bartle February 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    A fabulous piece of inspiration, thanks for sharing Chris! Having met my maker almost twice in life it really changes one’s perspective and makes you reflect on the big picture, where am I going, where do I want to be, what is important to me. Change can be so tremendously scary and the what if’s can keep you going around in circles but with risk can come great reward. If you don’t keep evolving and moving forward you will be left behind and never make that home run. Change opens doors for new opportunities that you may never deemed possible or been on the journey to discover. As children we are always being curious, exploring, growing and taking risks that have our parents biting their fingernails at times. Then as we become adults I believe we are just older versions of our youth with a treasure trove of experience behind us, this is when belief in ourselves is paramount. By surrounding ourselves with like minded leaders and mentors this belief is empowered, and can inspire us to harness the courage from within we all have it but not everyone explores it to its full potential. Change is happening all around us, now is as good as time as any to get on board.

    • Chris Savage February 13, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      Thanks KerryAnn- appreciate the perspective. Chris

  5. Jason Montgomery February 12, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Chris – so very true, in my experience only when we take that step and move outside our comfort zone and believe. Can we truly expect excellence and innovation from ourselves and team members. In our industry change is a constant and only by continuous vigilance can we expect to deliver great results.
    Thank You.

    • Chris Savage February 13, 2014 at 11:53 am #

      Thanks Jason!

  6. Una Kristinsdottir February 13, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Thank you for this metaphor.
    When I think of it I was sure I had steped through the Exit, however the hardest thing is to not going back and if that is the case, maybe I still have one foot in the doorway?

    I am up for it!

    • Chris Savage February 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      Thanks Una!

  7. Martin Grunstein February 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    You might recall that we had lunch a couple of years ago initiated by John Skinner. We got on very well and you said you echoed my ideas on customer service and felt they were right for STW. You put me in touch with a couple of your “brave” leaders who couldn’t find an opportunity to break from the way they had always done things to introduce a person whose philosophies you thought were right for STW.
    Where was the attitude of taking your foot off first base to steal second? It seemed to me they were VERY attached to first base!
    I have read quite a few of your blog entries and you are quite pithy and incisive but it rings a little hollow when the practice isn’t reflective of the preaching.
    One of the features of your blog and the comments section is the fact you answer every person personally, which is great, but I have never read a comment from a respondent that was anything other than “ataboy Chris” or “you are deeply insightful”.
    My experience makes me feel a little different.
    The final words of your blog were “I am up for it. Are you?”
    Well, are you?

    • Chris Savage February 18, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      Martin- I wrote to you privately giving you the opportunity to retract your comments but you insisted they be published. I cautioned that I would be frank in my response. You accepted that. First, I want to reassure you that I get an avalanche of negative feedback on my blog. Most write privately to me via email. They feel I am in it for ego, and am superficial and insincere on occasion. I get most of the feedback from those closest to me- and it really hurts sometimes. But I persist because I also do know that for some, and occasionally, this blog helps and contributes. Now, regarding our lunch. I recall it well. I liked you immediately and empathized with your customer service mantra and passion. I then, as you asked, introduced you to those in our group who make the decisions on the content of our training in this regard. You were very frank on your intent of using our lunch to drive a sale. Fair enough. Now, those who met you did not warm to your offer, and felt your content old fashioned, out dated, ‘folksy’ and not nearly as strong as the content we had gleaned from our 4,500 staff in creating our extremely successful customer service training program. I was a little surprised by the passion they felt that we did not need any Martin input. I respected that. They just did not like the offer. End of story. Martin- thank you for writing in your views. I appreciate it. i do scratch my head though on the sales technique. But everyone to their own. Chris

  8. Sven February 15, 2014 at 6:56 am #

    Thanks Chris this is perfectly timed

    I’ve stepped right through that door with Designworks, I’m feeling the fear but loving the thrill of where it might take us

    Your support and encouragement is key


    • Chris Savage February 17, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks Sven!

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