We live in an era of constant change, an era where one’s adaptability is not only a valuable trait, it’s downright mandatory. Change today is more rapid than at any point in the past 500 years. Decision-makers are now expected to be more nimble than any previous point in human history. Thus, those who demonstrate a strong capacity for resiliency are more likely to flourish in the coming years than those who are inflexible and resistant to change. Their resiliency, in fact, enables them to effectively embrace change rather than merely respond to it.
CONTROL: Human beings, by nature, have a strong need for control. When individuals use their own knowledge and insights to anticipate future results, they develop specific expectations based on what they anticipate. When their anticipated reality matches their perceived expectations, they derive a sense of control and some form of balance is achieved. If, however, what they anticipated fails to match perceived expectations, they sense a loss of control and must then adjust to changes, which they were unprepared to face. This puts them into a state of imbalance that continues to become more uncomfortable with the continuance of change.
PERCEPTION: Whether the changes that occur are considered major or not is totally dependent upon the perception of the individual affected. If she feels overwhelmed by the change; feels that the change has brought about a situation that she never anticipated, the change will feel major to her. But, in fact, it is less the change that is resisted than it is the individual’s inability to control a situation that differs from her own sense of reality. An individual will only accept change when they have the capacity to do so. This acceptance requires ability and willingness.
ABILITY: Do you have the necessary skills to deal with the changes taking place and do you know how to effectively use these skills to manage the situation? Do you embrace change?
WILLINGNESS: Do you have the motivation to apply the skills to the situation at hand?
EXAMPLE: You may have the ability to use accounting skills to handle the day-to-day details of cash flow, but you have absolutely no interest or motivation to do the task.
So, assuming you have the ability—the necessary skills to deal with the issue brought about by change—and you willing—you are motivated to apply these skills to adapt with the change, you have the capacity to be nimble enough to transition through the change. Then, you’re ready for the real work.
As simplistic as this sounds, a positive attitude is imperative to see life as complex, yet filled with opportunity. When approaching change with a positive attitude one sees major changes as uncomfortable, yet with an understanding that opportunities exist, rewards are viable and important lessons can be learned from those challenges. A confident, positive attitude says, “Yes, this may be difficult, but the end result will be worth it.”
Here is where that word “vision” comes into play. It is important to maintain a strong vision that serves as a guidance system despite challenges and potential disruptions. Managing change will inherently produce bumps in the road; even major disruptions to be resolved. Yet armed with a strongly focused roadmap, persistence will prevail.
Being nimble enough to modify one’s own assumptions is important here. It is important, to be honest enough to recognize one’s own strengths and weaknesses and when to set limits or seek support. Patience, humor, and understanding are integral to dealing with change and above all, it is important to believe that change is a manageable process. Being able to quickly recover from disappointments or setbacks is necessary as is taking a practical view of such adversities rather than taking them personally.
It is important to develop structured approaches to manage the uncertainty incumbent with major change. One must be able to, when necessary, renegotiate priorities during the change and recognize when it’s appropriate to ask others for help. It is also important to compartmentalize stress so that it does not carry over into other areas or one’s personal life. Multi-tasking is a valuable skill as is the ability to recognize when to consolidate processes for maximizing success.
It is important to discern when change is inevitable, necessary or advantageous and to fully embrace it. Then, influence others to embrace change as well. Pull from known resources to creatively reframe and improvise new approaches that will leverage the benefits of change and recognize important lessons learned that can later then be applied to similar situations. Be willing to take risks and encourage the power of teamwork.
AIM FOR RESILIENCE: During major change, it is important to be resilient enough to flex between these attributes as they become necessary rather than to display all of them all of the time.
There is little doubt that one’s ability to be resilient and flow with change requires a high initial investment—an investment of belief in the change and the time and dedication to manage through it. However, the price of resistance is far costlier. Because change is such an integral component of all business today, those who chose resistance over resiliency will pay a price. By lagging behind, or worse yet, simply being overtaken by the innovation of those who paid the early price of resiliency and commitment to change, they will risk succumbing to the threat of becoming obsolete.
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