To inspire incredible change, establish the familiar

I miss travelling. Exploring a mountain in Japan; Discovering beauty in the back alleys of Honolulu; Hurtling through traffic on a moped in Vietnam. All fantastic experiences that made me uncomfortable (lost again!) and exhilarated all at once.

Isn’t it strange that while millions crave the delight of discovery while travelling, when they arrive on foreign soil so many flock to the familiar?: McDonalds, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola. I frequented 7-11 for snacks in Vietnam and had a meal at McDonalds in both Florence and Kyoto.


During my first major trip, a friend helped me line up a place to stay in central Italy from which I could visit the major cities within hours. It made a huge difference when roaming – always a place to come back to that felt a little like home, where you could find your stuff exactly the way you left it.

It doesn’t matter how resilient you are. Whether there is a pandemic or the organization is restructuring, familiar places make it easier to navigate change. Continuity brings comfort. Structure creates safety.

As leaders, you can add a dose of the familiar to help anchor your employees:

  • Share your voice: Edelman reported that 43% of people wanted to hear from their employer daily during the lockdown. Meet with and update your team regularly.
  • Establish rituals: I’m a big proponent of laugh breaks. I’m working on a very high stress project and we have had some of the biggest laughs at our status meetings. It’s a healthy recharge. Weekly trivia challenges, share-a-pic, and recognition moments are all good ways to create positive structures.
  • Set up a buddy system: Travelling with a friend has huge advantages. The same applies to change. Pairing the unsettled with the sure-footed to help each other can reap huge advantages.
  • Drop memory stones: If you want people to be strong in the future, remind them of how they’ve been strong in the past (read more in LINK TO LAST ARTICLE ON STORY COLLECTOR)
  • Point to the future: If the vision hasn’t changed and the way your team helps others remains consistent, remind them of the ultimate goal. Focusing on goals and future accomplishment can help everyday troubles fade out.
  • Remind them what to do if they get lost: Familiar support systems are there to help if they trip.

Resilience is leveraging the familiar to embrace the future. Give them a rock to stand upon.

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Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.