Becoming a Change Agent


I often intuitively know what a person or organization needs to do to get where they want to be. Most of the times, I realize they cannot get there on one step, sometimes they cannot get there at all. Early in my career, I was frustrated by the inability of those around me to change. It took me a long time, however  to learn that my expectations were unreasonable and that change is a much slower and costlier process than I gave it credit.

 Change Agent

One of the toughest lessons in life for me was learning the pace in which people are able and willing to change. I’m not sure that I have a full grasp on it, but I have made strides since my early 20s when I entered the workforce. Back then the world was much simpler. Things were a lot more black and white than they are today.

If it’s broken, fix it.

If it’s is not a good program, then kill it.

If it’s not making money, replace it.

If he’s not performing, fire him.

If you’re screwing up, stop it.

If you’re struggling in your faith, get right with God.

Easier said than done. Much easier said than done.

While my goal remains the same, to get people to where the need to be, my tactics have changed over time. I still evaluate the road ahead but I also take in consideration the individual and/or the organization’s willingness to pay the price to change and its ability to move forward.

Sometimes I meet with the reluctant leader who knows he needs to make a change, but is still not sold. Small steps, easy and often irrelevant wins most likely will bring the person along before any strategic move is made.  At times I meet leaders who are more than ready to charge the hills with a bold new initiative whose team are not ready or able to handle it. Those are tough conversations, but they need to know the true cost of their vision before embarking in a tough season of disappointment and potential high turn over.

I’m not a patient man, but I understand the pain that personal and organizational change can cause. I have seen it. I have experienced it. So today as I walk with leaders young and old, I’m thinking like a coach, “how far can I really push them? How much ground can we cover during this season?”

 Have you been frustrated with a boss or friend because they were not willing to make a change to what was so obvious to you? How did you handle it?

  • I work in Christian radio, an industry that is painfully slow to adapt. Trying to fix everything that’s wrong with it (at least according to my tastes and beliefs) overnight doesn’t work. There are so many listening alternatives that if people don’t like a sudden change, they can leave and never look back.

    People have a lot of expectations for what Christian radio is or isn’t, and they attach moral or biblical rationals to every expectation they have. To modify such deeply-rooted expectations requires their trust, and that, unfortunately, takes a lot of time.

    We began repeating the mantra “evolution not revolution.” It goes against every fighting fiber in our bodies, but incrementalism is yielding fewer war wounds and more progress.

    • Theres’s a lot of wisdom in that Zach. It’s a tough balance to change slow enough for your audience and fast enough in order to be competitive and stay afloat as a business.

  • I’m going through this right now with a friend. I want so bad to just fix it! But I can’t. Grace is something I constantly need to work on. It’s not my strong point, although I want people to have grace with me. I’m learning to keep my mouth shut and not talk about the situation unless I know I will speak truth with grace. Henry Cloud says, “Truth without grace is judgment.”

    • Great quote. And I can relate on keeping my mouth shut. I’m not very good at that for sure.

  • Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there. The first few I was impatient and probably immature. I have learned to listen and communicate genuinely, but now I sometimes come across too soft. It is what it is. Shoot straight.

    • That’s the other side of the issue: being too soft. Being able to communicate the gravity but allowing people the room to respond at their own pace and understanding where they are is more of an art form than a science. It’s something that I have learned with experience and continue to refine every day.

  • I’m actually there right now at my part-time job. I don’t think it helps that I have been a director of marketing before (and now just an info booth and poster hanger guy). I know marketing. I help other businesses develop their brand and marketing strategy. So I get easily frustrated when I see them making mistakes that I think even a rookie would know not to make. 

    I handle it by giving my opinions in our meetings, saying what I’ve seen has worked and hasn’t worked, but ultimately, I have to remember it’s their decision to make – so I may not like it or agree with it, but I have to do my best once the decsision is made to follow through with what they want done.

    • Jason, that’s exactly the position you should take. Once the decision is made, you need to embrace and do your part. If you cannot. Then it’s time to find another job.

      • Agreed. I actually have been looking (for 2.5 years now), there just isn’t much in my area in way of jobs. Hoping my branding and design business takes off a bit more, then I won’t need the PT job to help supplement my income.

  • I think about what you are saying every time I drive through a rural area that has an abandoned restaurant for sale. I ask myself “What happened?” Maybe we’re just so fast paced that there isn’t time to soak in the local color anymore. There’ s a place going  into Yosemite National Park that has so much potential. Thousands of people from all over the world travel through there, but the sign is still begging for a buyer.

    • Lance, maybe God is calling you to buy that spot and open a restaurant. I’ll send you some of my best recipes. 🙂

  • Very thoughtful and heartfelt.  Thank you for sharing.


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