Do you like riddles? Here’s one for you:
On day one, a large lake contains only a single small lily pad. Each day the number of lily pads doubles, until on the thirtieth day the lake is totally choked with vegetation. On what day was the lake half full?
The answer: on the 29th day.
This riddle illustrates the exponential effect of change. From personal experience and from working with coaching clients who experience problems due to a change or multiple changes, I know that our capacity to absorb change depends on our level of resiliency.
Everyone has a level that reads, “I’m filled up!” Like an ink blotter, when that level is reached, no matter how “willing the beast,” the change just cannot be absorbed. You know when that happens to you because you see it in your own moods and behaviors. You know when it happens to others in the workplace because it shows up in their behaviors, such as lower morale, reduced trust, defensiveness, angry outbursts, and less teamwork.
We’re all affected by change. It’s a matter of how long the “malfunction” lasts – how long it takes to bounce-back.
To increase your resiliency, become your own coach:
1) Develop a pro-active attitude. Do not assume that the world will remain the same. Accept that change is inevitable. Author Charles Swindoll once wrote, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Denial isn’t the answer to handling disruptions that come with change. Recognize that disruption and resistance are natural, and you put yourself in a position to pro-actively respond by moving into a problem solving mode faster, excited by the possibilities that await you.
2) Learn to create options for dealing with change. The ability to create options for dealing with change allows you to discover a variety of functional behaviors for managing change effectively.
Reframing is an effective strategy for doing just that. Rather than get stuck in “if only” self-talk, generate a list of “what if” questions. When you reframe, you get creative in identifying possible solutions. The more creative you become, the more energized you feel. This sense of being in control and able to make the necessary changes will give you a true sense of empowerment.
This works when coaching others as well. For example, let’s say a group of employees (or family members) resist a change you’d like to make. Rather than get angry, view them as “troublemakers” and attempt to force them to accept the change, ask yourself, “What if I was to see their resistance as positive, how would I approach them?” Your answer might be that you would listen to their concerns. And then, armed with that knowledge, you could either alter your plan of implementation or you could use a different strategy for helping them see another perspective.
Reframing helps you to challenge currently held ideas, habits, and perceptions that keep you stuck. It allows you to rethink any situation.
3) Learn to see and accept paradox. In danger, you find opportunities. Humor is found in the most serious of situations. Order is embedded in chaos. Urgency calls for patience. The more things change, the more they remain the same. In death there is rebirth. Only when you give up the need to control are you in control.
Life is filled with paradox. Embrace it. Look for it. And grow as a result.
4) Get and keep a clear vision. Clear vision serves as a guiding light. Not only does it become your purpose – your desired outcome – but it is the thing that allows you to self-correct once you have been shaken by the disruption that comes with change.
5) Re-commit yourself to a life of service. Nothing buoys the spirit like giving to others. Service to others is nothing more than a yardstick for our own success and happiness. The more you give, the more you receive.
As one of my coaching clients once said to me, “Whenever I take a risk and embrace the change that accompanies it, I always seem to grow as a person.” He then smiled.