In my last post Flowing With Change, Growing With Change, I wrote about change, why we should flow with it instead of stopping it. I want to continue writing on the theme of change, and how to cope or deal with change.
Let me begin this post by asking a question: If we know that change is so good, why do we still fear it?
The short answer is this: We fear change because it always involves both creation and destruction. As something new is created, something old has to be destroyed. Just like the bud is destroyed as the flower booms. Just like the caterpillar is destroyed as the butterfly ascends.
“Change is the timeless display of the forces of creation and destruction.” ~ Janet Feldman
Our fear surfaces as we face the prospect of replacing the familiar with the unknown. A job is lost and a new career commences. An existing product’s life cycle ended and a new one is produced. An old building is detonated and a new skyscraper is constructed. A hope is lost and a new dream is conceived. At the junction and tension of those two realities, we often retreat in fear. At least that’s our instinctive tendency anyway.
Usually, it is only change is forced upon us that we accept it. Recently, I’ve been discussing with two business owners about a potential collaboration, looking at a huge coaching opportunity abroad. About a year ago, they were part of a bigger group until they were forced out to stand on their own. They saw the signs coming that they should plan their exit but didn’t, only to be played out. It was abrupt and painful. But on hindsight, the change was inevitable. They saw it coming but didn’t act on it sooner. Now they tell me that it was actually a blessing in disguise in many ways, and they probably could not have the chance to work on this new mega oversea opportunity if they were still part of the original group.
Dealing In The Present Moment
Although the only time we can deal with change is in the present moment, we tend to live our lives in the future or the past. Unless we learn to live in the flow of the present, we can never really deal with change very well.
At the most fundamental level in our lives, we only have the present moment. If we spend our energy and time worrying about the future and regretting the past, we limit our capacity and ability to create an impact for success in the present moment. If our present awareness is swamped with the “noise” of the past and the “static” of the future, we cannot tune in to the present tune, and create the masterpiece that you want.
Here’s a great question for dealing with the future by changing the present moment, “What can you do today that your future self will thank you for?”
A soldier in a war cannot afford to dream of the future while he is battling the enemies in the hear and now. Similarly, a professional sportman need to focus in the here and now of training every day and winning every match that he competes in, with single-minded devotion to his daily tasks and processes.
We build our capacity, capability and confidence by winning the endless present battles, day by day, not by worrying about what hasn’t happen.
“What about planning for the future then?” I hear your thoughts. Let me use a famous quote here:
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The distinction is important, because as much as you can draw up plans, they become obsolete as soon as the battles begin. Things change dynamically at every corner and moment. But your readiness, anticipation and ability to adapt at every turn will prove the difference between whether you survive or perish. Life is a contact sport. Life is not a straight line.
I’ve read that the most effective and successful leaders are able to sustain a sharp, localized focus in the present moment and at the same time, could manage a broad visionary context of the future. They are relentless in running the daily processes while at the same time, keeping the end goal clearly in mind.
Effective people can bridge these two realities (present reality and future goals) as they navigate through change. Admittedly, doing so can be a real challenge in the face of dynamic and dramatic challenges that change can bring.
Trust Our Resiliency
There are times even our highest purpose and values aren’t enough to carry us through change. At times like these when things are changing so rapidly, all we can do is trust.
Life is many times like driving through the fog at night. You can only see as far as where your headlights allow you to see. All you can do is trust your headlights throughout the whole trip, and you will eventually arrive at your desired destination.
“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” ~ Ben Williams
The human species have been known to be adaptable and resilient through the ages. Darwin said that it’s adaptability, not strength, that’s the most important trait for survival.
Researchers have documented that we have this innate “self-righting tendency” that exists inside of everyone. We are resilient by default, and are hard-wired to bounce back from adversities. We are built with “internal buffers” to withstand life traumas and stress. And we can build upon them by enlisting support from other individuals and organizations. We are resilient as individuals and we are even more resilient together as organizations.
How many times have you turn out alright in the end, when you initially thought you aren’t going to be okay when facing something “bad” or uncertain change? We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for!
1) Do your mind live more in the present, in the past or in the future?
2) What can you do today that your future self will thank you for?
3) Knowing that you are innately resilient and trusting that you are going to be okay no matter what, what big steps will you take toward your desired future?