After facilitating a change leadership and resilience workshop last week, I took a much-needed opportunity to stop and self-reflect. This got me thinking, “Wow, talk about change! This year, more than ever, was all about change for me, personally. I’ve got a new role, in a new location, and am living in a different city, in a different home, with a new look towards the future. Even beyond that, I noticed the changes that may not have directly been happening in my life or to me, but were happening all around me. The news, for example, was all about change: changing economics, changing climate, changes in pop culture, the Olympics and, of course, the election.
The Oxford dictionary defines change as “making or becoming different.” When I read this I was immediately drawn to the fact that the definition does not call out whether “making or becoming different” is good or bad. In fact, it’s simply “different.” So, this got me thinking back to what I was teaching this week regarding resilience, or, “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” And it occurred to me why, when looking back on all the significant changes that happened for me over the past year, I was still able to perform well in my job. I was able to keep my social and personal commitments and re-prioritize in the face of a constant shift.
It’s not so much that I have grit or that I don’t get “stressed out.” The fundamental difference was that I exercised self-compassion and accepted my thoughts and feelings, in the moment. Then, I made a commitment to myself to see things in a reframed way. I could have easily thrown in the towel when two days before moving to my new city I found out that the lease I signed the week before was for an apartment not allowing pets and I have a beloved cat. Instead of collapsing with exhaustion and frustration from the last-minute change happening along with a myriad of other things, I accepted this as an opportunity to find an apartment that might suit my needs differently. I reframed my thoughts from “Ugh, I can’t believe this is happening at the last minute and I can’t deal with any more setbacks!” to “I wasn’t completely satisfied and ‘in-love’ with that apartment, so maybe this new one will be bigger or have something more to offer me!”
I am imagining that you all have changes happening in your lives too! We here at Vermont ATD want to support you by providing relevant learning events that help build your capacity to accept and move through this constant changing environment more easily. Our Board has extended our Leadership Development SIG topics to areas such as “Leading with Oneness and Presence”, “Mindful Leadership” and “Practicing Self-Compassion” and an upcoming SIG on “Change Management.” Our hope is that you might attend and extract one great “nugget” of information to help support you during times of stress or change and that you find support to help you when you need it most.
People say that change is inevitable. I couldn’t agree more. We don’t always have control over what changes, how it changes and when it happens. What we do have control over is our reactions to change, which can directly affect and impact our lives. I’ll leave you with this quote from Lao Tzu:
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”