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Winning At Working: The New Dance
by Nan Russell

Poor Pluto. Stripped of its planetary status by the International Astronomical Union and reclassified as a "dwarf planet," two years ago, Pluto's demotion heralds new rules for planet classification. Debate by renowned astronomers from seventy-five countries culminated in the decision to reduce the number of planets to eight "classic" ones.

This reclassification got me thinking. Like a company reorganization or leadership change, the rules were altered. And no matter if you were among scientists advocating for more planets or less, it no longer matters. The decision is rendered. Like it. Don't like it. It's done.

Organizational changes can be like that too. Like Pluto, I've spent career years with "classic" designation, status and access only to be "reclassified" with mergers, acquisitions, downsizing and reorganizations. Confident, comfortable and courageous with a current boss, you must reprove, readjust and reorient to a new one with a different style, focus and rules.

It's happened enough in my career-life to collect a few insights along the way. First, the suddenness is unnerving and often painful. Familiar shifts to unfamiliar and second-nature decisions become second-guessed ones. When the rules change it's uncomfortable.

But, you can't go back. You can't change the outcome. What was true yesterday is gone. So, my second lesson learned the hard way is let it go as quickly as possible. Your future depends on it. Third, recognize you're in a growth spurt. That can be painful, challenging or exhilarating. And while it might not be a growth you'd choose, use your talent to reinvent yourself, find your grounding and contribute in new ways.

You see, if change can happen to something as sure as planets, it will likely happen to us. When it does we can dig in, resist and fight, or after taking a deep breath and regrouping, we can find our courage and take a step forward.

That's what people who are winning at working do. They choose the future over the past, personal growth over fossilization, opportunity over defeat, and contribution over consternation. And as difficult as that is at times to do, people who are winning at working work through their disappointments and wounds, assessing their options, inventing their future and finding their wisdom. Like an African proverb reminds us all, "When the music changes, so does the dance."

Want to be winning at working? Learn the new dance.

(c) 2009 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

Nan Russell may be contacted at

Author of Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way (Capital Books; January 2008). Host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell" weekly on Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. Sign up to receive Nan's "Winning at Working" tips and insights at



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