From ‘Coping with Change’ to ‘Thriving in Change’

From Coping with Change to Thriving in Change

One of the few constants in life is, ironically, change. Assuming this belief is true, then the choice becomes about whether you wish to spend your life coping with change or thriving in change.

Your life and work will benefit from deepening your understanding of what it takes to thrive in change. If you believe it's true that change is constant, denial is not an option if you wish to thrive. There is also very little opportunity for resting from change before more change is apparent. Change is everywhere - in your life, your work, your team, your organization, your community, your country. Without time to rest, regroup, and return to balance after one change is over and without strategy for how to thrive in constant change, every new change you perceive can start to feel exhausting. Start to feel like you're just coping with what life (or work!) is throwing at you next. I invite you to shift beyond feeling that you are coping as best as you can.

You might be saying to me "what have you got against coping as best as I can, you just don't know what I am dealing with and I am doing my best!". Coping is a step, an important one for moving forward in what you are experiencing. Getting stuck at this step, however, can feel like paralysis. While you are putting energy into coping, you also have a desire to move now, do now, accomplish now. This dichotomy creates tension. It's the desire for something better while you are telling yourself that you are doing the best you can.

A dichotomy that can be eased by shifting from coping with change to thriving in change.

What It Means to Thrive in Change

Thriving in change means accomplishing your goals in your life or in your work not in spite of change, but because you are consciously working with it. If we look to nature for an example, it is not the flower blooming where it is planted. That flower that must somehow survive with whatever nature gives it. It must survive whether it's perfect growing conditions or a long, hot and dry summer. Instead, it's like the butterfly.  Keeping an eye on its surroundings, doing its best to avoid danger while still taking chances, ensuring an abundance of resources are available to meet its goals, willfully and intentionally undergoing incredible transformation, and being well-equipped to thrive in the changing of the seasons. It even appears to be having fun and making time for play along the way.

Today, you are invited to consider developing your deeper understanding of thriving in constant change in your own life. To spend less time in the step of doing your best by coping, and flowing more easily into your moving on, doing and accomplishing.

Moving Beyond Coping with Change

Whether you are a formal leader of an organization or a team, of a small enterprise or a big one, of a congregation or community, or a family, you are absolutely also in leadership of your life. Whatever leadership you may experience in your life and your work, it is from this leadership energy that you can move beyond coping with change.

As a big, yet important first step in thriving in change, you are invited to take some time in silence to reflect about yourself. Yes, even if you are reading this because you want to apply what you learn to your leadership in your organization, this work begins with you coming to a greater understanding of you. This personal understanding can then be applied to your understanding of your organization.

The following three reflection exercises are about big, important topics. Give yourself some time in silence, reflection time, maybe making some notes in your journal. Please give yourself the time that it takes to get honest with yourself.

Who is Leading Your Life?

Consider this question as a first reflection.  Am I truly leading my life?  If I am not in leadership of my life, who or what is?

You might discover that you are in leadership of your life.  You might also discover that some of your leadership comes from something outside of you.

To begin thriving in change, this step requires you to make a decision that you are in leadership of your life from this time onward.

If I've Done It Before, I Can Do It Again

Now it is time to give yourself appreciation and acknowledgment that you have gotten yourself through situations of change in your life. You have already used your skills, knowledge, and fortitude to do so. Reflect on those situations of change and identify for yourself your lived experience of getting through change. What did you do to cope as best as you could to get through? What are the common strategies you notice from those situations?

Basically, you have a lot going on already within you that is able to cope with change. It is valuable to develop explicit awareness of what you have within you to draw from as a resource for working with change.

Shifting from Awareness to Desire

Sit with the concept that you are capable of leadership for going beyond coping with thriving in change. Push yourself a little bit or maybe a lot. Are you truly satisfied with coping with change? Do you have the desire to thrive in change?

What might you experience if you are thriving in change? What are the benefits of leading your life this way?

The stress that you are probably feeling if you settled into coping with change and its accompanying sense of paralysis does not need to be part of your life. You want to move, do and accomplish in this performance environment of constant stress. It is your natural state to be on the move in life and with your work. An important part of reducing and even eliminating that stress is to be willing to step into thriving in change.

Birgitt Williams
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Birgitt Williams is an international management and organizational solutions consultant, author, meeting facilitator, teacher, keynote speaker and executive coach. Her business focus is to create inspiring work environments that are highly effective in achieving their purpose and fulfilling their vision.

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