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How do you deal with change?

The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress. Charles Kettering

I know that I have been through many changes over my years. In some cases, I initiated the change, in some cases I didn’t, something or someone made the decision for me.

So, if we deal with change, sometimes on a daily basis….why is it so hard?

Well, think about this, we are pattern-making machines.

Our brains are comfortable with pattern and routine, it makes our lives easy, we don’t have to think about what we have to do and we don’t have to pay attention.

And, once a pattern is established, our brains will quite happily keep marching along that pattern. Some patterns are as simple and straightforward as the route we take into work every day. Some are as complex as the way we feel about ourselves.

Most patterns get set very quickly; so think about the resistance we feel have when we need to do a task in a different way…or change patterns that have been part of our lives perhaps for years.

Here is what we need to remember when dealing with change, we go through certain stages. Knowing the stages will help us deal a little easier with changes:

William Bridges, who wrote the book Transitions, talks about 3 stages….there is an ending, then a neutral zone and then a new beginning. And within those stages there are typical responses that we go through.

In the End, something is coming to a close or ending, that could be a way we do our job, say a new process or technology is being introduced, or it could be the ending of a relationship. We need to let go of something or someone,

And, in the end, there is Denial. We ask questions like:

  • Why is this happening to me?

  • Why can’t things stay the same?

  • We have the “Why Me’s”

  • Refusing to believe that the change will happen

Next comes the Neutral Zone. This place is a foggy place, we can’t see what the new way of doing things looks like, we don’t know what the future looks like, and we don’t know what it is going to feel like.

In the Neutral Zone, we say things like:

  • What am I going to do?

  • This hasn’t worked in the past

  • I don’t think it will work now

  • I doubt this will improve anything

Coming out of the Neutral Zone, allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can see a new way.

In the new beginning, we say and think things such as:

  • What are my options?

  • I’ll wait and see what others do

  • What opportunities are open to me? (What’s in it for me – WIIFM)

Just so you know….it is not the change we actually resist…it is the transition. So the most important thing that you can do for yourself and others is to learn as much as you can about what the change is and look for ways to move through the transition to get to the new way of doing things.

As a leader, one of the greatest challenges is helping yourself and others break free from the (pattern) present way of doing things. Leaders are doubly challenged to lead others while adjusting to the new environment themselves so it is important that there is frequent and open communication with your colleagues to help them move through the stages.

  • What changes are going through?

  • What information do you need to help through the transition?

  • What are the opportunities?

Need help with a change in your life, at work or at home, contact me and check out my Lunch & Learn series on Facebook @ "The Heddeka Group"


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