How to deal with Change
We live in a world where change is the only constant. Change is happening all around us faster than ever before. Technology, politics, society, families, homes, communities, neighbourhoods, learning, health, age, work, careers, beliefs, hobbies and choices are affected by ‘internal and external, positive and negative’ changes.
The single most important choice we can make is to adopt the right attitude to the inevitable, constant and timeless experience we call change.
How do we adjust our sails to the winds? How do we respond so that we survive, adapt and get on the winning team?
Our response to change is person-situation specific, which means this varies from person to person, in its unique situation or context. Here are three strategies to help us in our adaptive and coping mechanisms:
1. Change can be an event, how we respond is a process.
I am not sure of the origins of the 4 Stages of Change below. It nonetheless makes for a great model to learn from.
Our first reaction is usually one of denial. “I cannot believe it/You’re kidding me/ No way/ But…” We ‘deny’ because a part of us is living in the past, and moving our whole self into the present does not fit into the way things were.
When the change event seems more apparent and real, we usually resist. “How are we going to deal with this? / Things are on the down hill/It’s all their fault” When we resist, we blame, complain and feel like a victim. Resistance is our way of protection and feeling safe.
With time and a sense that the change event is here to stay, and that it won’t go away, we come to explore options. “Perhaps if try this approach/ I wonder what will happen if/ Let me understand why this happened” Exploration can be both an ‘autopsy’ and ‘coming to terms’ phase with the change. This is a useful and necessary phase that prepares us for the next stage.
The commitment or acceptance phase. “I am grateful that this happened/ It’s allowed me to…/ I am more committed to …” When we accept or commit, we are ready to move on. We do not regret the past. We are set free to move on to the next chapter in our lives.
Could this start all over again? This is the nature and cycle of our journey – dealing with that which does not change: ‘Change’. Trying to escape from it all may also present its own set of repercussions. Observe, understand and don’t take short cuts (even in the four stages of change. Live and be.)
2. Get some perspective: “We’ve just arrived on the planet.”
Modern man (or Homo sapiens) has been on the planet for the last 200 000 years or so. Whilst that may appear as a long time, scientists estimate that the age of the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. If the age of the earth was put into a calendar year, it would appear that we have just arrived on New Year’s Eve at the 23rd hour.
There are two points I wish to highlight:
1. Knowledge and discovery challenge our beliefs. We may choose to deny and resist or be humble, examine, consider and accept.
2. Paradigm shifts occur when we see that what we took for granted was merely the way we saw things (or the way we were); not the way things are. The implications may be a change in how we see the world and treat one another. Such change is always prompted by all forms of truth.
There are many lessons to learn and observe from our progenitors that can help us help one another. We can better ensure and celebrate our humanity, difference and oneness.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
3. Think like a strategist.
A strategist takes awareness of his situation and environment, has a clear mission, vision and set of values, formulates and selects strategies, thinks of plan B and gets to work.
Everyone is trying to move forward and upward. Everyone wants to be successful, though that may mean different things for different people.
Could there be anything more important than using principles of strategy in your personal, professional or company success? This coupled with enthusiasm, energy, vigour and effort can only yield worthy results. Taking feedback, measuring and self correcting helps us deal with change in a much more prepared, relaxed and fun manner.
If you are aiming for a promotion, or if you are an entrepreneur or manager for a corporation, consider the following. Competition brings change. Competition gets us to think creative again. “Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map.” – Wayne Calloway
Our response to change is a process. Get perspective. Think like a strategist. Embrace change, and change will serve you and I for greatness.
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