I have been described as a Granite rock, a diesel engine, watching the cat in the tree until it almost dies of hunger before I budge to change. Most people enjoy the comfort of the known and are reluctant to deal with change, especially if it is forced upon us. The current world affairs has given me precious additional time to revisit the reasons why I am so reluctant to change and I had to work hard at accepting that change is inevitable and that change, in fact, is filled with opportunities.
Starting by visiting the definition of change:
- Make or become different
- Take or use another instead of
- Replace with something new or different
- To make the form, nature, content, future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone
- To exchange one thing for another thing, especially of a similar type
- The act of becoming different
- Alteration, modification, and Transformation
- An event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another
- A relational difference between states especially between states before and after some event
- The action of changing something
- A different or fresh set of ideals
- Becoming different in essence
This made me realize that this change can be the opportunity mankind was waiting for to change the way we treat each other and the precious planet we exist on. This is the break from the “rat race” that we were waiting to change our destructive ways. Our wake up call…….
However, in the midst of a global crisis and panic, this is very difficult to see through the thick smokescreen of emotions and suffering. Reactivity is often the result when change is thrust upon us. A natural reaction to threat is to want to withdraw from the world, curl up in bed, watching movies, and eating everything unhealthy with very little exercise if at all.
This, however comfortable and cozy, is not a lifestyle that cultivates a resilient community. The reality is that unless we reside in a bubble or choose to isolate ourselves completely from changes in society, human behavior, media, or the world, it is impossible to avert the inevitability of change.
Action is needed to overcome change, any action, this is a period where your ability to respond (responsibility) to situations will be tested to the limits. Nature constantly provides us with examples of how we should approach obstacles in life, for nature has been faced with millions of years of challenges and shows us how to be resilient to changes in the environment. One of my favorite trees in the Eastern Cape is the Jacket plum, they produce some of the best fruits you can find in nature. Each year, every tree produces kilograms of fruit, but three years ago there was an outbreak of caterpillars that stripped every leave of every tree in the area before the trees could produce fruit that year. For the next two years, these Jacket plums invested energy only to structurally repair the branches and leaves and to build up energy within the trees once again. Only this year did the trees flower and produce fruits again. A wonderful example of resilience and how to spend energy internally to overcome the effects of a pandemic before returning to normal production.
Take action and make a difference. We can be important agents in change. We can view change as a challenge or an opportunity.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” has never been more appropriate. By forging ahead through a difficult situation, you can demonstrate the strength of character and greater resilience to change. Resilience can be characterized as the capacity to cope effectively with setbacks, obstacles, failures, and disappointments. At any stage, it is up to each one of us to choose to interpret the stumbling blocks of change either as negative or positive. It begins ……. And ends, with our mindset.
In primitive times, anything different was perceived as a threat to survival, so we humans sought out familiarity and comfort. Actively shape how you perceive the change. If you see the change as a threat, you will likely go into “protection mode”, which produces negativity, fear, frustration, anger, stress, and tension which will interfere with your ability to respond to the change positively. You want to view the change as a challenge to pursue rather than a threat to avoid. With this challenge orientation you produce thoughts and actions that support constructive reactions to the change, enabling you to adapt to the change more quickly and easily.
People fear the unknown, but you can reduce the fear by educating yourself about all aspects of a change. The more you can learn about the change the more confident, calm, and committed you will be towards the change.
The uncertainty of change can cause you to feel out of control and wanting to flee. A lack of predictability and control is one of the most powerful sources of threat and stress to people. You want to empower yourself around the change, identify a vision of what you want the change to be, a goal that clarifies how you want the change to transpire. Instill in yourself a sense of ownership where you take control of how the change unfold.
Be grateful for the time that is currently available, be grateful that you have stepped away from the “rat race” to slow down. Let’s be mindful of how we make use of this additional precious time that is granted to us. Use it wisely to engage with friends and family as well as to take action to overcome the change. Use this break from “normal life” to seek balance in your life and pursue aspects of your life that you never made time for before the crisis. Physical distancing, not social distancing, now more than ever do we need our friends, family, and business partners to help each other to master the change ahead of all of us.
The natural tendency during a crisis is to go into protective mode and isolate ourselves from the threats the crisis present. Unfortunately, this strategy is the worst action we can take right now, seek support from optimistic and forward-thinking people to work through the changes together.
As with change, everything is a matter of perspective! May this be your year to embrace change, celebrate opportunities, and create new pathways towards attaining your goals at work, at home, and in your life.
All the best,