Thriving through change - a People Forum talk

Change seems like a constant companion through our working lives - can we ever recall a time when it wasn’t? But with change sometimes comes pressure - so how can we thrive through that? 

Those of us in the audience at a recent talk organised by the Bristol Media People Forum, got many practical tips to help - thanks to guest speaker Liza Hughes of Whynot? Coaching. In a packed session, Liza covered her 9 tips to help us thrive through change, starting with a vivid demonstration of how difficult change can be.

Tip 1: Understand what it takes for the brain to do something new

For anyone grappling with change and feeling like it’s hard work, as Liza explained that’s often because our brains are hard wired to work in a certain way. As a practical example, we were all asked to write our names with our other hand - not easy! So the first tip was don’t be surprised if it’s not easy - our brains are not programmed for new things. In other words - effecting personal change will take work.

Tip 2: Know where you are in the change cycle - and challenge yourself to move through it

There are different stages in change. If we can recognise where we are in that - it will give us a sense of control back too, so you we create a more positive relationship with the change. Liza used the example of leaders - they are often much further down the line in their strategy before they start to talk to their teams and forget that they need to go back to the beginning to bring everyone onboard. 

Tip 3: Conceive the impossible - the power of visualisation

Citing sports psychology, Liza referred to how high achieving sports people often visualise themselves winning as a means to do just that. Clyde Brolin’s book ‘In the zone’ addresses how champions suppress their fear of failure and find the belief to win - and what separates those who live their dreams from those who don’t. So, the power to visualise is a powerful tool in effecting positive change.

Tip 4: Eliminate imbalance - try and avoid overreacting to change

Liza covered the theory of Dr Steve Peters who wrote the book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ and identified the ‘fight or flight’ psychological response to stress.. According to Dr Peters our brains are part chimp and part human. The chimp is the emotional, irrational side while the human is the evidence-based, rational side that uses context, perspective and balanced judgment. Our challenge is that, when change is stressful - it’s the chimp side of the brain that kicks in. So, we need to recognise our ‘inner chimp’ and try not to overreact.

Tip 5: Manage your energy

There are different forms of energy - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - and we need to restore all to maximise our performance. But, the challenges of professional and corporate life are likely to sap mental and emotional energy and can also introduce negative self-talk. This is where spiritual energy can be an effective counterbalance, helping us to find purpose, belief and personal vision - the things that sustain us through the tougher aspects of change.

Tip 6: Get to know your limiting beliefs

It’s back to our inner chimps again - this time being the voice inside us that says we can’t do something - when in reality we can. The inner chimp can ruin things big time unless we can assert our more logical human minds and block the irrational. To emphasise the need to overcome out limiting beliefs, Liza used the powerful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

Tip 7: Understand your strengths and use them consciously

How many of us have had psychometric tests done in the past - and then file them away, never to be actually used? Liza made the good point that we need to understand our strengths, know how they respond to change and that, if we actively employ them, they can create positive change. Whether we are analytical or sociable, introvert or extrovert - we all have strengths we can use.

Tip 8: Own ambiguity

Often we focus on what’s wrong with change - and not what’s right. There is always more than one way of looking at a change situation. Negative thinking can mask out the positive so Liza urged us to ‘reframe, reframe, reframe’ and go to sleep with positive self thoughts. Another reason to know that inner chimp and block out the negativity it can bring.

Tip 9: Cultivate positivity through gratitude

Ensuring we left on a positive note, Liza covered the role of gratitude in developing a positive mindset, urging us to keep a gratitude diary. Considering the things that are good in our lives and being grateful for them helps us to reframe on what we have, rather than what we don’t - or are unhappy with. If the next day starts with a positive mindset rather than a negative, we are that much more resilient to cope with what change has in store for us.

About Liza Hughes

Liza has worked either in or with some of the UK’s most respected and innovative organisations for some 30 years and was the first female board director of the world’s largest free newspaper Metro. She retrained as a coach 13 years ago to bring her passion of helping organisations to deliver great culture through human excellence to life.  

She uses a positive psychology framework in her coaching, helping teams and individuals to work through their strengths to create great results. 

Find out more about Liza and her work at

About the Bristol Media People Forum

We operate on on an informal basis allowing members to network, share practical experiences and make connections. Our events programme brings speakers on various ‘people’ topics often held in some of Bristol’s more unusual venues. We cover a lot of topics and, while we may not have all the answers, we are a good place to start. We look forward to meeting you.

Find out more and join our LinkedIn group here:

Author: Richard Roberts
Posted on: Thursday 25th October 2018

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