This time of year is such a wonderful reminder of how beautiful change can be. Although, for some of us change is not always beautiful and can even be a bit frightening. In business, in healthcare and in relationships we often see change as a disruptor of the norm. It seems unsafe. Therapists propose that traumatic changes like loss of a spouse, job changes, moving homes can be opportunities to insert positive new behaviors like stopping smoking or dieting. We are most likely to make and sustain new habits in the context of turmoil and change. The discomfort of change can hold opportunity for good if we are intentional.
So why do we spend so much energy in creating predictable, safe environments in which to live and hope that change does not find us? The only certain thing about change is that it’s always going to happen.
Try to consider these three ideas when facing change:
When my wife and I traveled to drop off our son to college we had a conversation about the changes in relationship that always accompany home dynamics (she’s so lucky to have married a counselor – although she might not admit it some days). It was almost comical when we found ourselves fighting over some trivial “nothing” on our way back home after leaving our child in what was his first solo grown up home, St Olaf University dormitory. We began laughing at each other in unison recounting that we knew this would happen and even expected it. After we each apologized we regrouped in the knowledge that we would survive together even separated from our child by distance. A courageous leader will try hard to prepare her/his people for the inevitable storm.
A great quote from an old book, Dying for Change states, “At the last great meeting of the species the dinosaurs voted unanimously NOT to change.” We only have three choices when it comes to change: retreat and guard the doors against letting it happen, remain catatonic and let things overwhelm us, or face it – march into it and in wonder find the promised good.
Change is not a variable like we sometimes may treat it. It is a constant promise that can act as a form of hope in our lives. Placing the dynamic vortex of mystery and the unknown in a frame of mind that keeps change ever present and thrilling is the very excitement that prompted us to first ski a black diamond slope, sky dive or get married and have children (like we “planned”).
Grab hold of it.
Being raised in the flat, no trees environment of West Texas offered a uniquely bizarre perspective from its strong, sustained blasts of wind. Learning to lean into it. As a child, I would flare out my wind breaker like wings and let the wind keep me from falling flat on my face while dangerously leaning forward in a way where I would most certainly fall flat on my face if it were not for the wind. Leaning into the wind is strangely empowering. It is like standing next to something wild and not being consumed, or wading in a muddy river. Change is like the wind. “We don’t know from where it comes, or where it goes.” But, we CAN have confidence that it will only reframe our future, not destroy it.
The discipline of hope is that it provides vision beyond change into what we might create, compose or dare to become. First and always have hope. Never let it go.
Sure, we will probably get soaked . . . but just look at that awesome wave!!