How to Thrive on Change in the 21st Century
As the famous folk/rock singer Bob Dylan once said, “the
times they are a changin’.” And changing they are!
In the last 25 years we have witnessed many historic and life altering changes that have taken place. The crumbling of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, the quantum leaps of the internet, a stock market crash, tremendous downsizing by the big three US automakers, huge layoffs, the iPhone, the country of China emerging as a huge economic leader, the BP oil disaster and the list could go on and on.
People love change and they hate change. They want to see the models of the new automobiles for the next year, but they hate the fact that they have to change their area code on their telephone number (and everything else that has their telephone number on it). They love the fact that their new cellular telephone has the latest upgrades on it, but they dislike the chore of having to sort through their trash and put recyclables in a separate container. They like the idea of ATM machines but fear the loss of their job due to a downsizing of their company.
The right amount of change in a person’s life is similar to the sun rising on a new day. It’s full of possibilities and opportunities. It is that special something that adds to the magic of life. Like a fresh diaper, some changes are needed and wanted. If not, it’s the same old stuff.
It would be boring (for most of us) to see the same old reruns of the Monk TV show week after week. We want the all new comedy program. Many of us would not want the same redundant meal, night after night; we need and want a variety of delectable and healthy foods. Change is predominantly good and of course, change will always be with us.
So how do we deal with the issue of change? Are there some guidelines that will help us through the maze of confusion? The answer is a resounding and emphatic YES!
A famous success philosopher, Kop Kopmeyer, once suggested a system for dealing with adversity that has served me well. He called it “The Four A’s for Dealing with the Challenges of Life”. Let me share with you my interpretation of them and how they can help you deal with the challenge of change.
The first A stands for Admit. We must first, admit to ourselves, that change is inevitable. It is going to happen. It has been, will be, and is part of every facet of our lives. So, when faced with a change at hand, the first step is to simply admit that this change, whatever it might be, is or has happened. To admit or acknowledge that this change is real is the vital first step.
The second A stands for Accept. It is important to accept the shift that is taking place. Not lip service, but a true acceptance of this modification of our present existence is needed. It means recognizing things will never be the same again. We don’t have to like the change, but we do need to embrace the reality that has occurred. The job is gone; the child is now an adult, or the strength and quickness we knew as a youth has been diminished.
Since the door to the situation as we knew it, has been closed, we must seek entry through a new door, down the hall that is now open. In order to be able to pass through that door we must first accept the change that has taken place.
The third A stands for Adapt. What are we going to do about it? What kind of a plan can we create to help us make a successful transition into this new reality? What type of help or professional assistance will we need to seek out? What kind of knowledge or skills must we acquire to help us turn this potential loss into a win?
After we have deployed the creative resources to come up with a plan to adapt, we must take the next step which is to take Action. As the saying goes, “you can’t get to second base if you leave one foot on first”.
All the planning in the world is useless, unless we take action. What happens to some people is that they go through the first three steps of this formula, but hesitate to take action. A good example of this is when Chrysler, Ford and General Motors created an electric car but failed to totally commit to marketing and selling it. In the meantime, automakers like Toyota and Honda did, and gained a huge head start on the big three. The key here is take action.
Another example, on an individual level, is when a person loses his or her job. The first move might be just a telephone call or simply doing some research on the internet about the change he or she is contemplating. It may mean securing the services of a career planning specialist, doing some informational interviews, or enrolling in a training program to begin the process of upgrading ones’ skills. The important thing is to get moving; like the saying goes “the universe rewards action.” It is vital to move in the direction of our goal. Once we get moving, adjustments and corrections can be made.
In summary, the four steps to successfully deal with change are:
Admit – admit that the change has happened or is about to happen.
Accept – accept the change, and welcome it with open arms.
Adapt – come up with a plan to help you adapt and make the best of the situation.
Action – take the necessary action and follow through to insure your get the desired results.
By implementing the above formula for dealing with change in our lives, we can grow and benefit from the myriad of challenges and transformations that are sure to come our way in the months and years ahead. Not only will the times be a changin ‘, but so will we.