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Manage change or it will manage you

American motivational speaker and writer Dennis Waitley said: “There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” Change is inevitable. Your response to change is up to you. Your response can be positive or negative. There is no neutral response.

Before you say that change is hard for you, think about all the modern conveniences we enjoy today that wouldn’t exist if someone didn’t embrace change and take action to make things better. You have a washing machine as a result of an inventor, Alva J. Fisher who invented the Thor, and Hurley Machine Co. who introduced it in 1908. He offered a change to washing on a rub board. Watching a TV is something most people enjoy thanks to Philip Farnsworth, inventor of the first fully electronic television in 1927. The list is endless of modern machines that we now take for granted because someone thought out of box and took action to make a change.

How about you? Can you become a “change agent”? Steve Jobs, American entrepreneur, businessman, inventor and industrial designer who died in 2011 was the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc. He was born in San Francisco, CA out of wedlock and adopted at birth in a closed adoption. By the time he was 10 years old he was deeply involved in electronics. He was seen as a loner growing up.  He co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976 and the rest is history.

Some of the principles Jobs practiced that made him successful are listed below.

~ Do what you love. He touted the premise of taking a job you could be passionate about. Accept jobs and learn from them until you find one you can be passionate about. Then you will be successful.

Make connections. Creativity connects things. People with a broad set of life experiences can often see things other people miss. Take classes, attend events, get involved and meet new people. Stretch yourself and make new friends.

Create different experiences. He constantly sought innovation in the customer experience. He designed Apple stores to be different, with a goal to enrich people’s lives. The plan was to create an emotional connection between the customer and the Apple brand.

Master the message. The greatest ideas in the world don’t get off the ground without successful communication. Jobs was a master story teller. Instead of making a presentation he informed, entertained and educated the audience all at the same time.

Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of having a vision. Set goals and have a lofty vision of what you want to accomplish. Make a plan and then work the plan.

Say “No” to a thousand things. He was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of the things they did. He took a company with 350 products and reduced it to 10 in a two-year period. He did this so he could put his “A” team on each product. How often do you say “No”?

Sell dreams, not products. Jobs really understood the customer. He uncomplicated the tablets so as to capture the imagination of the user. He made it simple enough for young kids to use. Customers don’t care about your products. They care about themselves, their hopes and dreams, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you will win them over.

Believe in yourself. Think creatively. What may at first seem like a crazy idea may turn in to a genius project. Be prepared to defend your ideas. Don’t discard these ideas just because you may not be a business owner or be in the technology business. These same ideas are applicable to many businesses. You can be successful by being focused on your target customer base. Ask for ideas from customers and employees. Accept positive and negative feedback without becoming defensive. your customers are the ones most familiar with the products they use, what they like and don’t like about them. Become a change agent and experience new and exciting things in the future both in your work life and your personal life.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.