Most change happens so slowly that we don’t realize it because we are busy with all the activities that make up our days. These activities don’t change (get up, get self/the family ready for the day, go to work, eat meals, etc.) so we don’t notice the changes that are taking place in us and around us. Sure we do these things in different seasons and when we have to write down a date we know that time has moved us forward. But change, well, that happens when we’re busy with all the details.
Of course, good changes like meeting your future spouse or getting a promotion or a new baby are always welcome. When we grumble about change, we’re talking about all the unpleasant changes that occur. Almost all of us figuratively react to change just like a baby being fed strained green beans for the first time.
“Twenty percent of the people will be against anything.”
Myths of change:
This will go away
It will help if I get upset
I can just keep on as I did before
Problems prove that change is bad
“We often see only what we are looking for and are readily distracted from observing what should be fairly obvious. If we keep our focus narrow, we will probably not notice the big picture. But in a world of unexpected and radical changes, we will need to widen our lenses on order to make sense of our unfolding, and often surprising, reality.”
~Eamonn Kelly, Powerful Times: Rising to the Challenge of Our Uncertain World
Problem solving is a key component in the knowledge worker’s tool bag when it comes to assigned tasks. Don’t forget you have this skill when faced with unexpected changes. If you pride yourself on your resolution skills, then you can’t suddenly become a cube farm ostrich when it comes to dealing with changes within your company.
“Problems are the price of progress – don’t bring me anything but problems.”
Management knows more than they are telling
Management doesn’t care
I’m not in a position to make a difference
Management is supposed to make changes work
Changes weren’t necessary
If these are the thoughts that you are engaging in, then you are resisting change and endangering yourself. You are abdicating any responsibility that you have (and you do have responsibility, as it relates to your job/position within the company, to create a change success story) as well as the control that you have over yourself.
If you aren’t part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. You don’t have to like something to be an effective participant; you just have to be open to the possibility. If you are open to the possibility then perhaps your constructive feedback might be welcomed to make the change more useful to workers/the company.
Dealing effectively with change
You are only human, and only one human at that, with only so many hours in the day and you will never get around these limitations. So said, the Cub Scouts have this deceptively simple motto that I have taken to heart – “Do Your Best”. Your best changes from day to day, situation to situation but if you strive to do it then you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you have done all that you can do. Everyone has missteps and makes mistakes once in a while, but by doing their best to rectify the problem and examining what could have been done better, then the motto is still met.
Manage yourself instead of trying to manage uncertainty. Similar to my comments at the end of “Some Thoughts on Interviews”, you need to focus on where you have control and what you know – which is yourself, your traits and talents.
How do you handle stress? Hopefully the answer is to take good care of yourself – eat nutritiously, get plenty of rest, engage in activities that you enjoy. These are your coping skills. Critical elements for coping are: humor, physical fitness, a role model, social support, a mission or meaning in life, and a strong moral compass.
Develop hardiness as an attitude – people with stress hardy personalities are less likely to get sick or have other issues when faced with change than those who have trouble coping with change and uncertainty. Hardy attitudes show three characteristics: commitment, control & challenge.
“Committed people who believe they are in control and expect life to be continuously in creative flux are likely to react to stressful events by increasing their interaction with them – exploring, engaging with and learning from them.”
I keep a sign in my work area with the following words:
Flexibility – Creativity – Resilience – Optimism
These are traits that I encourage in myself because I know that they are important to my success. With these words a reminders, I act to embrace change.
© 2012 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations