Can business leopards change their spots?

Written by Wyseminds · 2 min read >

Vive la change, say the French – long live difference and diversity! Well, we all know that pretty much anything the French say sounds alluring, but when it comes to change and innovation, it is the Scandinavians who beat the rest of Europe every time. According to, Sweden leads the way as the most innovative nation, closely followed by Finland and Denmark with the Netherlands and Belgium in fourth and fifth place respectively. Luckily, France does rank as a ‘strong innovator’, so the French do at least live up to their mantra! 

But what is it that makes these nations so unafraid of change and how can we, as entrepreneurs, take inspiration from them to keep on growing and innovating? Perhaps first, we should investigate why we humans can sometimes find change such an emotive subject.

For some people, of course, it signifies an opportunity to try different, new things and to challenge themselves; for them change is good even if it puts them outside of their comfort zone. For others, however, it evokes terror; it means things will be different but in a negative way. According to Forbes Magazine, the ‘Eeyores’ of this world – those who do not look on the bright side – are in the majority (62% of us in fact), while only 38% of us view leaving our comfort zone as something positive. Add into the mix that even though we might vow to make changes, but often fail to follow through and stick to our resolutions and you can begin to understand why change is downright scary to some people. After all, why bother in the first place if we’re not going to see it through anyway?

Call the FIRE brigade!

But why do we see change differently? It turns out that it’s all down to the FIRE model: Facts, Interpretations, Responses and Ends. As humans we hear Facts, we then Interpret those Facts, React to them emotionally and that determines the End result. We might all hear the same facts, but we can all interpret them in different ways and that depends on our past experiences in life and work and how we bring these experiences into our present. It’s important to question yourself as to why you are interpreting the facts and reacting to them in a certain way so that you are able to choose the right things to change. As you look at situations, try to view them and react to them in a different way – not just problems but opportunities and the things you wish to achieve, too. 

So take another look at the facts – can you look at them from another angle? Can you try to understand why someone who has the opposite reaction to you feels that way? Perhaps put yourself in the other person’s (more positive) shoes and see how the world looks? Can you narrow down what’s important to your growth journey and what’s not?

In fact, positivity or adopting an open, growth mindset, may well be the key to embracing change. Would it surprise you to learn that according to which cites a United Nations report, the top ten happiest countries in Europe happen to include Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands? Yes, some of those very same nations that top the innovation leader board. Their happiness and positivity make them resilient, too, so that when adversity comes their way they are better positioned to deal with it and ride out the storm. The ‘norm’, the same old, same old may seem reassuring and safe, but it’s also boring and predictable. As founders we must get used to the waves – big or small, good or bad – that come our way and accept that we must keep evolving to allow our businesses to grow and flourish. It won’t necessarily feel safe, but it will be a hell of a lot more exciting.

Find your happy place

So, if happiness means we are more accepting or sanguine about change, allowing us to view it in a more positive, less emotional way and to identify the right thing to change, it stands to reason that as entrepreneurs we can learn to embrace change in a more open-minded way. We need to rediscover our happy place – that all-important sense of purpose – and those feelings of positivity and control that we have when we understand our vision and remember that our vision has always been about change. Reconnect with those and you should be able to move forward more seamlessly. Vive la Change? Mais oui!

NB – sometimes we want to change but we can’t manage to stick to it. Want to know why? Check out Why Change Usually Fails here. Why change normally fails.

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