• Chris Evans

A Change Is Gonna Come

I would have always said that the pace of change is ever-increasing. However, in the wake of Covid-19, I think that statement grossly underestimates just how prominent it is. In no way diminishing the current events and the challenges that many have faced, change is a part of our lives and learning to deal with it is a skill to develop. The sensible choice is to develop strategies to try and deal with it before it arrives. In this way, we deal with the 'concept of change' rather than the change itself.

Change can be devastating, for example, a bereavement or a divorce with a substantial personal impact. In other cases, it can be equally significant but of a more practical nature such as the loss of a job or a need to relocate. Change of all levels, however, have some impact, and this fact is crucial. If you cannot see the impact of a change, you have missed it. Additionally, the level of change holds a direct relationship with your ability to respond effectively and with clarity of mind.

When you see the headlights of change on the road ahead, you have two options. Either you jump behind the steering wheel and drive it forwards (or at the very least jump in the backseat for the ride), or you can shut your eyes, ignore its approach and let it run you over. Option number two sounds like a losing proposition to me.

Those who choose to drive tend to have similar characteristics:

  1. Imagination – they don't need to have the 'full picture' to operate effectively and can work with loose guidelines and adapt to changes as they arrive whilst sticking to their core principles.

  2. Self-confidence – they know what they can and cannot control and that they have the tools required in their toolbox. By focussing on the things that they can control and making the best of them, they get the best out of the situation which in turn leads to other opportunities.

  3. Strength – they have a 'no quit' attitude. They don't allow setbacks to bring them down, and they push on until the task at hand is completed.

Every human being is different, and we all handle change differently as a result. Some embrace it. For others, it leads to feelings of uncertainty, fear and failure. To become someone who can take control of change and use it to your advantage, you need to understand the various phases of the change process.

The Kubler -Ross Change Curve is derived from work undertaken by Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to understand the various stages of grief following a bereavement.  It documents the transitions from the initial ‘shock’ through the various negative emotions, to the eventual climb in motivation and outlook. Whilst there are no set times for any of these phases, most people will likely pass through at least some of them on their journey through change.

To survive change you will need, as a minimum, to be able to

  1. Understand what is happening and why.

  2. Accept the fact that it is taking place and that you are, in many cases, unable to alter that fact.

  3. Realign your viewpoint to allow you to see opportunity in the change.

The ultimate goal is to become a supporter of change rather than a roadblock.  By realigning your approach and opening your mind to the possibilities it presents, you will become able to anticipate change before it happens and ultimately drive change yourself!

It is true that with all of the above, some people seem to have a far greater understanding and ability to deal with change however it does not mean that you cannot learn the skills necessary to manage change effectively.

Things that you can do personally include

  1. Understand yourself – standing in the face of change adversity is a tough challenge. To come out the other side you must be very clear on your personal needs, standards and goals. These will be your anchor when seas get rough.

  2. Don't quit – successful people don't quit, its as simple as that.

  3. Be inventive – as the old saying goes, ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’.  Or, put a little more delicately, there is always more than one solution. Look for the one that is the best fit for you, and that allows you to turn the change into something positive.

  4. Call somebody – there is no requirement to deal with change alone either emotionally or physically.  Don't be afraid to call on your resources, seek the advice and opinion of others and don't be afraid to go beyond the norm.  Relevant experience and expertise can be found in the strangest places.

  5. Be positive – accept the fact that things are changing and that the landscape might be uncertain for a while.  Don't try to anticipate every outcome in every parallel universe. Instead, do the very best you can in the knowledge that if you do, a good end result is very likely.   If things do not go according to plan, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you did everything that you could to ensure success, and that you now have another opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

  6. Keep well – it is so easy when things get tough to neglect the most important things elsewhere.  Your health is the most valuable thing you own and without it your ability to cope will be non-existent.

Simply, don't be the rabbit in the headlights, be the one driving the car!

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