What is the opposite of growth? Some would say it is “status quo,” but that’s not true. The opposite of growth is death: whether in your personal life or work life, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

The business organism must grow to survive. Even if we could miraculously hold everything steady—costs, margins, productivity—our value proposition would immediately degenerate due to the unyielding forces in a competitive marketplace.

What is the miracle that stimulates growth? It’s called change. Change is the sharp stick that moves us out of our comfort zones, and forces us to do dangerous and scary things. Change creates opportunity for growth. But why do we resist change so much? Why is it that when change happens oftentimes our first reaction is to dig in our heels?

Some people don’t react this way; instead, they consistently find winning strategies during times of uncertainty. They see change not as a threat but as an opportunity, full not of peril but of possibility.

Great leaders throughout history, including spiritual and intellectual thinkers, speak to a type of thinking that transforms the soul into a beacon of peace, courage and purpose. Privilege and adversity strike indiscriminately, but those who face it using the core beliefs of READY thinking motivate themselves to win and succeed.

READY thinking is a framework that enables an individual—or an entire organization—to get motivated and take action in the face of both challenge and opportunity. With this model, you are able to tackle tough problems, flourish in times of turmoil and move through change rapidly. READY is an acronym that outlines a five-step process to bring leadership into times of uncertainty:

Reality requires you to define the situation in uncompromisingly clear and concise terms for yourself and the people around you. This is the most essential step in READY thinking, and the hardest. Why? Because very few people like reality.

Governing your life is about choosing, but the adage holds true: people want to have their cake and eat it, too. Yet the common practice of expending emotions and energy on things that aren’t real is the direct opposite of being ready. The philosopher Santayana said it best: “One real world is enough.”

The first step in defining reality is to stop playing the “what if” game. When you hear yourself (or someone else) say things like, “What if…” or “If only…” or “I should have, would have, or could have…,” you’re wasting time and emotion on things that aren’t real. Stop!

Enlarging is about giving yourself and those you lead an inspirational, energy-inducing vision much larger than the task at hand, and much bolder than the situation warrants. Human beings want to feel part of something bigger than themselves. They want their work to be important, to be valued and to make a difference. First step in enlarging: ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” While this may sound self-centered, it actually helps to frame your self-talk and to fully appreciate the larger purpose of your effort.

Accountability requires authentically taking responsibility for your actions and for the leadership you give to others. People will want to join your team when they believe the journey you lead them on will be worthwhile, the destination you take them to will be significant, and that your leadership can get them there. Blow the accountability bond, and don’t look back: your team will be long gone. First step in accountability: admit, apologize and acknowledge. Admit you caused the problem, apologize for it and acknowledge your role in finding a solution.

Durability allows you to persist through tough times, finish the job and value the benefit of sweat and toil. Durability is the ability to stick with something through good times and bad, victory and heartbreak, happy emotions and sad ones. This is the most powerful attribute of a READY thinker.

Durability is stronger than talent, better than luck, more real than potential, and more valuable than intellect. Durability is the value that has delivered every good thing in your life.

First step in durability: when faced with what appears to be a daunting task or major setback, focus on one small action that moves you forward. Then focus on the next small action. Small steps allow you to surmount what initially appears to be insurmountable.

Y—“Yes” Attitude
A “Yes” attitude means you take what you do seriously, but you don’t take yourself seriously. Having fun and enjoying your work pays dividends, and people—friends, co-workers and prospects—want to be part of that energy.

How do you get people to join you on the “Yes” attitude bandwagon? Attract them with optimism and confidence. First step in “Yes” Attitude: nourish your brain with a positive diet. Instead of that firebrand talk show, listen to motivational music instead. Read an inspirational book before going to sleep instead of watching the morbid nightly news. Learn a foreign language while driving; when someone asks about your commute, simply say: “Magnifico, grazie!”

Do you remember a time when you felt READY? In all likelihood, there were many unknowns when you went through the change. But despite a nervous energy, you were inclined to do something, to move forward, to take the lead. You were confident and resolute. Being READY is facing down obstacles and changing events with influential action.

Chances are, you are a leader in some aspect of your life—in your business, at home, at church or wherever you hold influence. Wouldn’t it be worth it to be READY more often?

JOHN BAKER is author of READY Thinking—Primed for Change.
As a leadership expert, speaker and founder of READY Thinking, LLC,
John has helped hundreds of organizations achieve success by adopting
a practical framework of thinking during times of change and opportunity.