The only constant in life is change. According to Darwin those who can adapt to their environment the best and quickest are the most fit. Or said more eloquently by Leon C. Megginson “it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change“. Humans don’t like change all that much. Rather it’s our brains that don’t like change. Our brain’s primary job is to keep us alive. If everything is working as it should the brain sees no need for change. When you make an attempt to change the brain will fight against you in the form of little voices that sing a chorus of “but you can’t.” Adapting to change isn’t just a skill for the workplace, it’s a life-coping skill that allows us to get what we can out of life. We fight against change out of fear of the unknown. We rather the Devil we know versus the Devil we don’t. Whether as an individual or a company change is inevitable, necessary and doesn’t have to be the worse thing in the world.
Through my career and life I have managed through all sorts of changes. Most I did pretty well, some, well, I didn’t or I opted out. I personally believe change is good but that doesn’t stop the firestorm of little voices saying the unknown world is fraught with catastrophe. Here are some secrets to adapting to change in order to thrive instead of just survive.
Read The Tea Leaves
One of the reasons I and many others are good at adapting to change is that we see it coming. Read as many signs as possible. This skill comes from being a good listener and making connections where there seemingly aren’t any. There be things of course that you just don’t see coming. Being a constant observer of human behavior though will give you plenty of clues, having a large network and be sure to catalog information somewhere in the back of your mind. Many people will have small pieces of a large story. If you can put the pieces together correctly you’re ahead of the game and can begin preparing your adaptation strategy. There were many changes that didn’t rattle me because, frankly, I saw them coming.
Embrace The Suck
Sometimes change is just straight, no chaser. Especially when the change comes about suddenly without warning. Our natural inclinations are to immediately push back against the change and immediately begin harping on why it’s bad or horrible. Do that for about a day or two, then get on with the business of embracing the suck. It may very well be the worst decision on the planet ever made in recorded history, but you probably have very little power to change the change. So while everyone else is complaining about it, embrace it and begin working on your strategy of how you will operate in the new world order. What we focus on expands. If we focus on how bad a situation is it will continue to get worse. If we shift our focus to resolution of the situation, solutions begin coming out of the air. The more energy you give to fighting the change the more tired you will become.
Be The Calm In The Storm
Whether the change is good or not, there will be noise. There will be complaints, push back, and all out Armageddon depending on what it is. Don’t let that be you. After you have embraced the suck the next step is to get control of your energy. If you have to meditate to make that happen, so be it. Don’t add bad energy to everyone else’s. People gravitate toward calm. But this generally has two reactions. One reaction is that people will look to you for leadership. They see you aren’t phased by the change and want to be as calm as you. The other reaction will be for some people to think there is something wrong with you. Misery loves company. They will try to bring you down to their level. They may even go so far as to bad mouth you behind your back. This reaction is, generally speaking, that of a person who is insecure in their role or their leadership abilities. They see people gravitating toward you and they don’t like it. Regardless, be the calm in the storm anyway. You will feel better and the people around you will feel better. Also, you can make better decisions about your options.
Make Good Choices
When change happens it brings about opportunities. Some of those opportunities will serve you and some of them won’t. By getting control of your mind and energy you clear the path to evaluate your options objectively. Sometimes it doesn’t serve you or anyone else to be the hero of the situation and sometimes it does. Don’t allow others’ perceptions, energy or reactions to define yours. At the end of the day you have to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about the choices you make. If you feel strongly you can navigate the changing environment, great, go for it! If you feel you can’t, that’s okay to. My only advice is to carefully evaluate the situation either way. Meaning, don’t jump in too soon or out too quickly. When I say make good choices, what I’m really saying is make the best choice for you to thrive not merely survive.
What are your go-to techniques for adapting to change? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
About the author. Nile Harris is a word weaver and dream believer with 2o years of experience in healthcare and finance. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action. Her views are her own. Connect with Nile on Facebook and Twitter @theNileHarris.