Thrive on Change
Most leadership courses include the topic of change. Leadership expert and author of Growing the Distance, Jim Clemmer, offers a workshop called Leading @ the Speed of Change in which he explores how people react when on the change train. He suggests some people thrive on change, others put up with it, and some end up whining. Give up the whimper and go beyond survival.
First let’s explore some thoughts about change.
“Time for a change of scenery,” we told ourselves before arranging for a trip to Maui.
Most of us have said something like, “I have changed my mind,” “I have changed my heart,” “You have changed.” “We have a change of address,” “The leaves have changed color,” “Our relationship is in a rut; it’s time for a romantic change,” “This job has become boring, I need a change and challenge,” or “Yes, I changed my undies!”
These familiar lines sound like a rousing support for change; it’s good for us. The inventor, printer and scientist, Benjamin Franklin, said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” So what’s up with all the talk about resistance to change. Why aren’t we more resilient to change?
Assumptions about Change
Change is a constant trend from Eve eating The Apple to Apple computers.
Change requires energy to adapt. Hence even pleasant change can deplete.
People typically embrace change they choose or participate in creating.
People typically enjoy the occasional change that is a pleasant surprise such as lunch out, permission to leave work early or a birthday acknowledgment.
People typically resist change forced upon them that is problematic to their pace or lifestyle. Note forced. Inconvenient and distressful change can range from Hurricane Katrina to demands to work overtime to traffic detours.
People typically resist change of the unknown. They prefer to be informed and have a sense of personal mastery or control.
The pace of change is increasing. Technology is obsolete before it is out the Future store door. My great grandparents’ lives were very similar to my grandparents’ on the farm. My parents’ lives were significantly changed by World War II, the telephone, central heating, plumbing and electricity. My life is dramatically different than my parents’ with encouragement to speak up, an egalitarian partnership, computer literacy, and women colleagues in all fields including truck drivers, lawyers, ministers and doctors. Our children live in cyberspace, sleep with their iphones and expect to easily travel the world, and eventually the universe.
Nine Tips to help You Thrive on Change
One: Expect and accept change. Tell yourself, “I’ve done hard before and I can again.”
Two: Do a risk analysis. Ask, “What do I have to gain and/or lose from this change?” Discern if this change is opens healthy possibilities. Say No if you have thought over an opportunity for change and decided it is absolutely not good for you or your loved ones.
Three: Notice if you resist change out of old thinking such as We have always done it this way, or I can’t or It sounds hard. If you conclude that fear is hindering your adjustment, say to yourself, I can feel the fear and do it anyway.
Four: Believe you have the capacity to change. Know your potential and exercise it. Now and then, take a calculated risk just for the sheer joy of it. You might bungee jump, visit a nudist beach or try street performing with your saxophone, or changing a world situation. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, Be the change you want to see at work, home and community.
Five: Make a list of what you want To Be (more creative), To Do (work less with paper and more with people) and To Have (my own office). When you initiate change for yourself, whether it’s seeking new friends or starting an exercise program. expect setbacks and be prepared with alternate plans. Expect to make more mistakes when you are adjusting to change.
Six: When change comes at you at an unusually fast pace, keep as many other daily routines in place as possible. Don’t initiate other changes such as signing up for an accounting class or beginning a rigorous diet. Take extra time for self-nurturing, considering that change requires an extra output of energy to re-establish routine and flow. Eat balanced meals. Exercise and rest when possible.
Seven: Also, when dealing with change maintain order visually at work and home. Delegate and share the load. If the load gets so heavy you don’t have space or energy for a smile or laugh, it is time to re-evaluate.
Eight: Say Hello and Goodbye. Grab opportunities for new learning, new responsibilities, new challenges, new places, new connections and a new you! At the same time, consider what responsibilities, challenges, places, activities, and people you could say Goodbye to, to make space for desired change.
Nine: When disagreeable change is forced upon you, use the Serenity Prayer for support, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
During challenging times, when change is rapid or repeatedly going backwards and then forwards, it is challenging to think, “I can thrive on change.” But it is possible; especially if you have a strategy, monitor yourself, and put care of self and loved ones at the centre of the change process.
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Patricia Morgan MA CCC helps her readers, clients, and audiences lighten their load, brighten their outlook, and strengthen their resilience. To go from woe to WOW call 403.242.7796 or email a request.