Embracing Change

There’s a meme going around social media about 2022…something about this year being like the boyfriend who lets you down but you keep taking back because they promise to change?

I admit I had a bit of a chuckle to myself, not only because I’ve been there, but because it also speaks to our desire for change coupled with our need for protection. If we prepare ourselves to be let down, we won’t be as disappointed when it actually happens, right?

Safe it might sound but it’s no way to live an inspired life. It’s a way to feel certain in a time of such uncertainty absolutely, but it’s not the only way we can get ready for this year.

Regardless of the C word (you know the one we’ve had to endure now for 2 years), one thing that’s certain is that another C word (ie. Change) is in the air for each of us in one form or another. Career change, where we live, what matters to us, achievement goals, changes to our health, even relationship status changes. Change nevertheless.

The key to our happiness with this ever-present reality is our attitude to change: Do we embrace change or do we resist it? Are we simply resigned to it? And is our attitude helping us to have the life we truly deserve or is it hindering us? It’s time to get honest with ourselves and it’s time to level up.

Let’s imagine for a moment that we embrace change. How would I describe myself in relation to change if that were my position? And if I embraced change, what would I love about change in relation to myself – my way of being? What knowledge and skills would I exhibit? What actions would I take with those knowledge and skills and what results could I therefore expect?

Undertaking such an exercise in written form can help us to future pace ourselves into how life could be if we embraced change.

Doing a similar exercise for resisting or resigning ourselves to change is equally as powerful as in black and white you’ll begin to note the limitations this approach to change ensures. It’s useful to do both exercises because the former gives you something resourceful to take forward with you. The other, while illuminating, doesn’t move you anywhere, and resignation or resistance to anything is sedentary and stuck.

Stagnant water stinks. Don’t let that be you.

People with growth mindsets embrace change. In fact, they embody the definition because in order to grow, a person needs to seek out a direction or an opportunity to grow which means embracing change. Something as simple as taking a new way to work or choosing a different route on your regular walk, right through to starting a new course of study requires active participation in the seeking out of something new to integrate into our current way of thinking, behaving and experiencing the world.

Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfill potential” states that “in a growth mindset challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So instead of thinking I’m going to reveal my weaknesses you say, wow here’s a chance to grow.” She talks about the person who’s revered and lauded for their talent as a recipe for them to develop a fixed mindset because that person doesn’t want to lose the acceptance and recognition by their peers by a perception of failing when they try something different or new. Their identity relies on staying the way others see them. It’s a trap any of us can fall into, where success becomes a prison of limitation rather than a prairie of endless possibilities. And it’s all because we fear we could lose what we currently have.

It’s easy for us to forget that there’s even more out there when we stretch the boundaries of our own experience and understanding. Safety overrides growth.

You probably know someone in your world who embraces change and someone else who tends to resist it. I have an example of each approach to change from people I’ve worked with.

During the first year of the C word, Melbourne was in a 4 month lockdown and sales teams were navigating that period by exploring new ways of connecting with their customers using the phone, meeting via Teams and Zoom and embracing new skill sets that enabled them to use these tools well. Those who took on the challenge set themselves up well and many didn’t really miss a beat. They found a new operating rhythm that not only held them in good stead for that time when face to face meetings were impossible, but for the future as well.

Unfortunately, people like Bob (not his real name) saw lockdown as a reason why all sales activity for him anyway had to stop. Instead of asking himself how he could foster connection with his customers with this new situation, his question to the world was how could anyone expect him to sell when he couldn’t see anyone in person?! He simply refused to make any effort to do anything differently and as a result had absolutely nothing in his forward pipeline which was untenable.

Here’s the interesting thing though. His strong resistance to change actually fast tracked a different change which was the choice to either take new action or decide that now would be a good time to step out. Either way he was being asked to make a change, except these were external to him and not of his choosing. Resistance is an internal response and doesn’t ward off change. In Bob’s case, it only fast forwarded change – his employment at the organisation!

Contrast this with Michael (also not his real name) who is so committed to his own growth that each year he sets himself a new focus to dive into: this year, it’s spiritual growth with a new meditation practice, new study and reading. The external results he’s experiencing reinforce his desire for more growth and so he spirals upwards. He also happens to lead a team that is smashing their Q1 targets in an uncertain market….While his growth area is adjacent to his role, it still positively impacts all aspects of his life.

Instead of waiting for change to occur, he creates it; he actively seeks it out. And he is showing up to others differently too because the change is an inside out one.

Whether you choose change (empowered state) or wait until it happens to you (disempowered state) doesn’t alter the fact that it’s inevitable. Journallers may want to undertake the exercise I offered earlier by writing your responses to each question down. When you get to the results component, you may even want to identify all of the positive results you could encounter as a result of embracing the identified change. Put them on a vision board where you can see them every day to reinforce your desired new way of being. I for one would love to know what you experience as a result.

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