The constants of change

My main focus over the last twenty years has been helping people effectively migrate through the quandaries of contemporary change.  Without a doubt, the recent perplexities we are encountering are unprecedented in their scope and the challenges for us is extraordinary indeed.

I've discovered too the irony that change is consistent in its effects.  The larger the scope of the change the greater these constants seem to become:

1) It is frightening: Change makes the world seem less predictable.

-Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inaugural address took on an unusually solemn, religious
quality, and for good reason. By 1933 the depression had reached its
depth and the nation was struggling. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address outlined in broad terms how
he hoped to govern and reminded Americans that the nation’s “common
difficulties” concerned “only material things.”  It is in this address he uttered the now infamous words, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". 

We must learn to harness fear's energy and make it our heart's ally and not its enemy. 

2) It is threatening: Change implies that what exists now is inadequate

-We can get so confident in the way we've done things in the past, that it is can be a surprising and agonizing moment to discover that it no longer works for our current condition.  When we are threatened by change we usually choose one of three stances in reponse: Retreat, Retrench, or Relaunch.  For me relaunching is the most adventuresome and leads to richer discoveries and deeper redemption.

3) It is embarrassing: Change requires admitting and understanding our past errors.

-Being vulnerable is one of the most powerful attributes we can harness.  I believe it requires two elements: Humor and Honesty.  Laughing at ourselves is one the most mature defense mechanisms human beings have at their disposal.  In spiritual terms, it is the closest we can come to confession. Being vulnerable forces us to get to the heart of the matter in deliberately open ways. It means not pointing fingers at people or the past.  It means taking responsibility. Honestly interrogating our hearts during change is the first step in moving through change unencumbered by anxiety, insecurity and blame.

Posted in adaptation, Attitude, Change, Change constants, Collaboration, Community, Competencies, Depth, Embarrassment, Fear, Hope, Meaning, Quandaries, Relationships, Religion, resilience, Spiritual, Threats

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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