“The only thing that is constant is change” – so said Heraclitus, and he was right (not that I ever doubted him). We face change all through our lives. It is not just the major life changing events we can easily identify such as the loss of a close family member, or a serious illness or injury that changes the direction of our lives. We all face more routine changes through our lives such as moving house, changing job, marriage, divorce, starting a family, retirement, and so on. But change also happens far more frequently – monthly, weekly, almost daily. We have all experienced days when our plans and completely overturned by an unexpected emergency that we have to drop everything for. Or perhaps the car breaks down and we cannot get to our appointment, or our flight is cancelled and our holiday plans ruined. These events trigger the same emotions and same turmoil.
We face change in our professional lives all the time. Organisations re-structure, relocate, merge, acquire, and so on. Individuals are moved, promoted, or are just given a new line manager. All of these events are changes with an impact on the individual that can have a serious impact on their performance. They are expected to “get on board” or “shape up or ship out” with little or no consideration given to the support that would make all the difference to them accepting the change. With just a little knowledge and understanding of how to process change the same individual could be a high flier and help the rest of their team adopt the change.
All of these events impact our plans, our expectations, and our lives. They are often accompanied by strong emotions of frustration, anger, disappointment, sorrow. Alternatively, they could be positive events such as receiving a windfall, or a job promotion, with feelings of excitement, hope, and joy. If change is a constant and something we face throughout our lives then should we not learn how to adjust to it, if not embrace it? Or as Dr Stephen Peters put it: “managing your impulsive, emotional (inner) chimp as an adult will be one of the biggest factors determining how successful you are in life”. Think about it.
The following posts in this series will look at the techniques that can be used to separate emotions from rational understanding of the change, and how we can adopt positive thinking styles to change our perception and our feelings about the changes we are currently facing.