Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — Why is change so hard? I want to but… — Reluctant Agent
Dear Reluctant Agent,
As my friend Paul said, “Quitting smoking is easy! I’ve done it four times.” Why is change tough? One word: fear. O h ok, one more: natural.
Fear: of the unknown (including the important lack of role model of the new), threat or pain avoidance, of rejection by current systems and peers, and a failure so deep we might not be able to get out of. My antidote is a mixed metaphor of: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and as Ah-nold once said, “If it bleeds we can kill it.” Most reasons for resistance to change fall under this category, but if we can “humanize” the change by learning about it to understand it better, we can conquer the resistance.
(It’s) Natural: healthy skepticism to change (especially when non-optional and thrust upon, as at work) can also be met and satisfied in favor or against by just asking and education— misinterpretation is a sad reason to miss a potentially wonderful change opportunity. It’s natural especially when we let our hu-monkey minds rule our more evolved, responsible and informed minds.
Over our lifetimes, we can discover we have varying degrees of resistance to change on a 0-10 scale. Because not all change is created equally (i.e., incremental change we barely notice over years; paradigm shifts that change the structures (and sometimes belief systems) of our lives (i.e., healthcare reform; women in the workplace), our resistance isn’t always the reason we do or don’t make changes, necessary or desired, successfully or failed attempts.
Once we have decided to make a change, to make it stick, I prescribe to another adage: Success is 10% genius but 90% preparation. Listen, learn, anticipate, form a guiding plan with a goal, leave room for flexibility and as-needed course correction, focus on the process not the goal — helping you help you is sometimes the hardest change of all.
Get out of your own way,
Dear Reluctant Agent,
As the old aphorism says, “Change is stability.” Why? Because change is the only certainty you can actually count on! That is the nature of evolution, in cells, humanity, pop culture…life.
As humans we like predictability. We like to know when things will happen, how things will happen and the expected fallout from its happening. But life does not give us a Cliff Notes guide so we can prepare ourselves for life’s next scene. The best thing we can do to prepare ourselves for change is to become more confident in yourself and your own abilities to handle anything life throws at you.
Life is like a river flowing towards it ultimate ending. Along the way, we may steer towards the people, activities and careers that interest us, but in the end, whether you call it faith, destiny or God’s will—life will do what it is going to do. We have no control over how or what other people will do, only our reactions to it. We don’t know what political views or pop culture must-haves are going to change the very way we live our lives. All we can know is that we have the tenacity, wherewithal, knowledge and confidence to deal with whatever it is.
Start by writing out a list of qualities you appreciate about yourself. Be sure to include full descriptions of what you appreciate about each quality, including how it helps you cope with life. This list is the first step in you building resilience. You need to have a conscious understanding of how capable you are. You must know it loud and clear, otherwise, each change will cause you to quake in your boots. The quake is really you asking yourself “Can I handle this change?” “Am I capable?” My answer: “Yes, you are. You made it this far didn’t you?”
Part two of resilience and following your intuition. Are there some things you have always thought, “that would be good to know how to do.” Whether it be growing vegetables, herbal medicine, car mechanics or how to shut off the gas after an earthquake—do it. That’s you telling yourself what you want to know to feel more capable. And, frankly, the more capable you feel, the more stable you feel. Even in the face of change. And an aside: you should always know how to turn off the gas or electricity in case of emergency—and get a fire extinguisher. Safety first.
Now, if you really want to float like a butterfly through the uncertainty of change, learn to cope with stress. Stress fueled by fear, will inhibit your ability to deal with changes in a reasonable, calm way. Stress can leave you unable to make necessary decisions and unable to see your best opportunities clearly, a one-two punch of making the best of any change. Cope with your stress, build your resilience and know change is, so don’t fear it, make the most of it. You are capable.
Juicy Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.
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