Change is tough. Don’t believe me? Remember, the campaign promise of “Hope & Change?” Some of the same people elated by that campaign promise are now in despair because “Change” has been “Changed” and some of those who were in despair are now expressing “Hope.”
Regardless of your political affiliation can I suggest something? If you’ve experienced such emotional fluctuations you may need an upgrade in your tools for experiencing change.
The Amazing Opportunity of the Unknown
Change is inevitable. Whether we choose a change for ourselves, or have some change imposed on us, change demands that we leave what we know and move toward what is not yet clearly defined. For this reason, change offers us amazing opportunities for personal and professional growth—but we often miss those opportunities.
Here are just a few reasons why:
• We may buck or balk at the change. When we actively resist change that is unavoidable, we’re prone to fight, kick, grumble, and complain about it. If the change is truly inevitable, then this negative response only serves to prolong our misery and hinder our growth. And based on some of your facebook posts, this response also makes you difficult to live with!
• We may blame others for the change. If what we perceive to be a negative change is forced upon us, it’s easy to resent those who imposed the change. Our resentment can evolve into anger, holding grudges, and broken relationships. Our dark responses place us in a thick, gloomy smog that prevents us from seeing or dealing with the situation clearly. Let’s face it, it is very difficult to think the best of someone who looks at the same problem we’re looking at but disagrees about the solution.
• We may retreat from the change. We do this by passively avoiding the change, trying to postpone it, or deny its reality. This approach transports us into a fantasy world of our own creation where no real growth or forward movement can occur. It is startling how many people (of any political stripe) can actually articulate why they oppose those with whom they disagree without resorting to name calling.
So how do we respond to change in a healthy manner?
Five Ways To Win During Change
- Accept the change and step into it with childlike wonder. Visiting foreign ports in the Navy I found there were usually only two types of sailors. Some sailors experienced their host country by retaining as much of America as possible. They ate at McDonalds, they got their beer at bars that played American music, they stayed americanized establishments and complained when people didn’t “speak english” (an assertion Brits find laughable). Other than fulfilling the terms of their enlistment, they could have experienced the same thing in Detroit, New York, or Los Angeles. I chose to be the other type of sailor.
We studied the language of the host country before we visited. We sought to stay in out-of-the-way places not frequented by tourists. We wandered around in amazement — attempting to soak up as much of the culture, its people, and its beauty as possible. As a result many of us fell in love with travel and culture. We often disagreed with the religious, political and philosophical underpinnings of those countries. But it never occurred to us to say “I didn’t choose to come here!” This leads us to the second strategy.
- Anticipate change. Okay, we may not have chosen a particular change, but often we can anticipate it and prepare ourselves for it. We already know that change is inevitable, so look around you. What changes do you see coming down the pike? In view of those changes, ask yourself:
a. What new skills will I need in order to embrace this change?
b. What can I learn from this change, personally and professionally?
c. How can I leverage this change for good in my life, my business, and the lives of those I love?
- Assess the change. If the change appears to be unpleasant or unwanted, discover whether it’s possible to reject or negotiate some aspects of the change. Then, embrace what you cannot alter and make the best of it. Stephen Covey lists “Fear of change and postponing improvement” as one of the seven habits of ineffective people.
- Allow time to grieve. While this may seem overstated, some changes warrant a time of grief. For instance, when we send a child off to college, we’re happy for them and their new experience, but we grieve their departure. We may also grieve losing a long-time client to a competitor. Or we may simply struggle with having to leave an old system or process behind. If that’s the case, have a funeral for it. Celebrate its past service but put it to rest. Doing so will help you move on and embrace the new change.
- Advance as a change-agent. Whenever possible, initiate change instead of having it imposed on you. This puts you in charge. Constantly watch for ways to improve what you’re doing. Are you currently using two apps that could be replaced with one? You know that weekly or monthly task that takes so much time? How can you complete it more quickly and still do it well? When you hear yourself complaining about the way something works, why not improve it? Maybe there’s a routine task that you loath. Find someone else to do it!
Let’s face it, things would get pretty boring without change! Don’t let change get you down. Promote it, embrace it and grow by it.