12 Key Attitudes for Success: Attitude to Change

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2 – Attitude to Change

Underpinning any desire for success is a desire that things should be different. If you have already achieved success, then you may not want anything to change but most of the people I meet who are successful are not prepared to rest in the status quo. Achieving one success for them is the platform for the next success. Underpinning this is an attitude to change, that enables success.

The Traffic Light Principle

The simplest way of thinking about change is apply the traffic light principle: the things you want to start doing (green), things you want to continue to do (amber) and the things you want to stop doing (red).  I find the challenge for the people I work with is that they can always find more green activities to start but don’t necessary give enough attention to the amber things they need to continue doing and certainly don’t want to stop doing anything and put it in the red zone.

Change must be a balance between green, amber and red.

You also need to count the cost of change: the giving up of those things that you are no longer going to be able to do but which you are familiar and comfortable with; the challenge of stepping into new things which may not be as easy as you’d hoped; the persistence required to continue doing the things that are going to make the difference.

Default preferences can hurt

So, what is your attitude to change? Are you one of those personalities that always loves the new and can’t wait to abandon the old? Or are you the kind of person who stays with things too long that you should have given up a long time ago? Or perhaps you are the kind of person who is focussed on being intentional with what’s in the moment to make the most of what is in front of you today?

We tend to default to our preferences.  But you need to understand your preferences and then take the time to work out whether your default is really serving you.

I am married to a wonderful woman who always wants to do the next thing, who is ready to step into the new thing. I am probably one of those people who is reluctant to give up the old thing. Between us we find a balance in our lives which means that we both continue to move forward, without losing the precious stuff that we already have.

Engaging others as you change

Very few changes you want to make will leave others unaffected.  Your attitude to changing with others is crucial to your success in achieving change.  This is often about your capacity for personal leadership.

  • Do you avoid the difficult conversations about the impact your change will have on others?
  • Are you so dependent on the approval and agreement of others that you give others an effective veto over the changes you want to make?
  • Do you believe that others can just ‘like it or lump it’ because you are going to make your changes irrespective of the impact on them?
  • Or do you explore the needs and motivations of others so as to align them to the changes you are seeking to make?


The choice of attitude to others you take may change with the context.  If you want to change from a DINKY couple (‘dual income no kids yet’) to start a family then ‘like it or lump it’ may not bring you the best possible outcome.  On the other hand, a decision to resign before you have your next job may never be made if you let your colleagues exercise an effective veto over your choice.


We need to build our awareness of our attitude to change and our attitude to engaging others with our change.  We all have default preferences of attitude to change but, as we understand the range of attitudes we could have, we can be more intentional about adopting the attitude that is most useful in each context.

An Attitude to Change for Success


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.