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Stop waiting for everyone else to make a move

By: Lisa Sterling, Chief People Officer, Ceridian Corporation

If you want to achieve your goals and become as successful as possible, you can’t sit back and wait for everyone else – you need to act, and even get a little disruptive.

Change can be tough, but it’s necessary.

In this era of innovation, when businesses are constantly forced to evolve and adapt to the rapidly accelerating environment, patience is not a virtue. Leaders must be comfortable leaving the safe zone – stepping outside their traditional parameters to explore new ground. This is the only way progress is truly possible. 

Stop waiting and get moving
Too often we put off the things that make us uncomfortable – whether it be starting a new project, implementing a different system, or having a difficult conversation with an individual. If you look closely, many times you will find our procrastination ties back to our fear of failure. After all, we won’t have to deal with the possible disappointment, frustration, or rejection from an action if we don’t put ourselves out there. 

The problem, though, is if we let our fear of failure consume us, it hampers our ability to progress, innovate, and succeed. 

At Ceridian, we are deliberate in making decisions that make us uncomfortable. We are deliberate and thoughtful in our risk taking and acceptance of failure – even when everyone else isn’t – because we know these are the building blocks to creating a world-class culture and people experiences.

Why is it that, as adults, we often encourage our children to be leaders and take risks but, as organizations, we stay comfortable and maintain an aversion to rocking the boat?

Sometimes it comes from not wanting things to change. According to Harvard Business Review, some of the top reasons people resist change include not wanting to loose control, concerns about competency, and excess uncertainty. But none of these emotions serve us well. 

Be persistently proactive
Historically, the people who have had the greatest success are those who took risks and did things other people thought were crazy. Take Steve Jobs, for example. He wasn’t waiting to be like everyone else, and because of that, he created a product that nearly everyone I know has owned at one time or another – the iPod. Before the iPod, most would say you were crazy to think it’s possible – or even necessary – for people to carry around 1,000 songs in their pocket. Jobs was a trailblazer and left a legacy and technology that, today, people can’t live without. And even if you could, why would you?

This is just one example that demonstrates why, as a business leader, you need to stop waiting for everyone else and go do what you have to do to be successful.

I continuously tell the People organization at Ceridian that if the decisions they are making don’t make them uncomfortable they aren’t pushing themselves enough. My message to them is “I’m not afraid of you failing. I’m afraid of you not trying or failing and not getting back up.”

In addition to motivating ourselves enough to take action – and chances – on the things that make us the most uncomfortable, or aren’t guaranteed to work, it’s essential we give our employees the freedom and empowerment to do the same. 

Lisa Sterling headshot 3

As EVP and Chief People Officer for Ceridian, Lisa has a dual responsibility for Ceridian’s overall global people and HR strategies as well as overseeing the product vision and strategy for Dayforce Talent Management.

Prior to joining Ceridian, Lisa served as a Partner and Technology Solutions Leader for Mercer’s Talent Solutions business. Lisa also served in both a product and people strategist role at Ultimate Software as Head of People Engagement. As a Partner at Kenexa – an IBM company – she led the design and deployment efforts of the organization’s performance, succession and career development solution. She’s currently a Human Capital Executive Research Board Member and sought after speaker on various talent management topics.

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