In a Post Pandemic World: Embracing Change is the Key to Survival
Is it possible to break free from tradition without sacrificing the bottom line?
Short answer – Yes.
But first, I need to tell you why I dye my hair periodically.
What does that have to do with business?
Everything. I didn’t use to.
I used to believe all the stereotypes that humans, specifically women, who dye their hair – were less than, frowned upon – judged as unprofessional and must be hidden away from view.
That non-natural hair meant you were a rebel without a cause, an anarchist. I used to believe that if I broke societal rules – the world would implode, and hell would be unleashed.
If I dyed my hair – I wouldn’t amount to anything, that no one would take me seriously.
Societal brainwashing at its most mundane peak.
I wanted to be one of the cool, rebellious kids. But tradition ran through my veins. I couldn’t let my family down. I knew it would break their hearts.
I’m too much of an empath for that.
Honoring our past is key to moving forward.
But life happened – as it often does.
I became a parent.
And when our then 8yr old (now 11 3/4) was bullied at school, she went through a hair pulling anxiety fueled few months.
Something had to change.
She was born with a head full of naturally highlighted thick brown hair.
And when I mean naturally highlighted – I mean – woman pay hundreds at hair salons for a similar look.
Hell, the nurses were so in awe of her beautiful hair that when I finally took a nap post delivery – I woke up to find the nurses bickering over who got to cuddle her.
All because they fell in love with her hair and they took every chance they could to remind us during our hospital stay.
It didn’t stop there.
People constantly commented their love and jealousy in the same breath.
Her daddy and I were some of those constant reminders.
We looked back on that first family memory in the hospital with smug pride.
But the hair pulling hit a level where was no way around it.
We had to cut her beautiful hair shorter than it had ever been. Tears flowed.
Not just from the shame, and anxiety, and bullying – but from the loss of her identity.
She is Native American.
Cutting Native American hair symbolically means severing ties with her culture and her identity. An identity so intertwined with being a Native American that she listened to drumming music to fall asleep till she was 7.
It hurt her.
It hurt me.
And then I realized why.
Change is the only constant in life.
Raising her – I put so much emphasis on her hair because it was long and beautiful and linked her to her Native American ancestors.
But I never once considered how keeping with the traditions at all costs- could be psychologically harming my own child. So we talked about how change is hard.
We both had to face our fears. And we came to the conclusion that it’s courageous to do something you are afraid of.
Hair will grow back.
And we had many conversations about how we will always be connected to our ancestors and heritage through love and stories and memories, not just hair.
In the end – she got a haircut she loved.
And today, on her own terms, our daughter is growing her hair long again. In the process – she has learned about resilience, self-expression, and that she will be OK.
Ultimately – we both learned how to not care what other people think as long as we are doing what makes our souls happy.
Soon after – her courage helped me find the strength to cut my hair short finally.
While it was scary at first – that transformation helped her become a pretty cool kid now, and she is one of the two reasons why I never stop looking at the world, at situations, at problems – from different perspectives, from different points of empathy.
Changing your hair doesn’t change who you are fundamentally. In fact – quite the opposite.
Change allows us to align with the future we want
So why do I dye my hair? Because it helps me feel like a courageous, glass-ceiling smashing, rule breaking, live my truth badass. Oh and I like to shake things up once-in-a-while.
By dying my hair (and sometimes rockin’ a mohawk) – I know that I will be stared at, maybe made fun of. And I do it anyway.
Why? Because sometimes to make real change – you have to put yourself out there to be judged. Personally AND Professionally.
I dye my hair as an individual to prove to the world (or just my girls) that breaking traditional rules once in a while – is not life ending or career ending.
I dye my hair as a professional to prove to the world (or just my girls) that I am not less than, unprofessional, a rebel without a cause, or hidden away from view.
In fact – the world will only implode if we keep doing things the way they have “always” been done.
Dying my hair shows my kids, and whomever I meet whenever I am out – that it’s OK to embrace change.
That being different is nothing to be ashamed of.
That it’s OK to do something new that will leave ripples of inspiration to help build the future our kids deserve.
That it’s OK to do something outrageous to spark a conversation that might not otherwise be had.
A conversation that might lead to making the world a better place for our kids.
So what’s the point? The point is – change is hard. It is one of life’s constants. But it is hard.
Sometimes we have to face – the norm, the tradition, society’s rules – head on, making the first move to reap the benefits.
Embracing change is key to survival
Between the Pandemic, The Great Recession, and employees standing up for themselves in toxic work places – a revolution is coming.
Whether you want to believe it or not – it is already happening.
How businesses react to this incoming revolution is going to shape our country for generations.
It’s time we move beyond the traditional. It’s time to face the way things have been done head on and ask ourselves how we can be more inclusive, more sustainable, more immersive.
It’s time we finally realize that profits will only get better – after truly putting planet and people first. It’s time to connect with customers (and employees) and give them the experience they deserve.
Whether it’s through transparent, honest, and educational blog posts, or removing an unnecessary “what’s your gender” question – it’s time to check our biases at the door and take the first step to creating a future our kids will be able to thrive in.
Embracing change is my super power and I would love to work with you to see how I can help your company be a force for good. If you need help figuring out where to start breaking down traditions – my DM’s are open.
Embracing change is about learning how to see the world through a new perspective.
Embracing change does not have to be scary, or confusing, or a migraine induced nightmare.
Embracing change should be motivating, and exciting, and inspiring.
And you certainly do not have to embrace change alone.
In the meantime, Adventure on with Curiosity (and do something (ethically) outrageous to spark a much needed conversation),
~Kelly Steele, MBA (she/her)