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How to Thrive on Change

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There’s a Mahatma Gandhi quote that goes “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” When it comes to the business world, you have to learn to thrive on change if you want to survive…and succeed. New technologies — such as robotics, automation and AI (artificial intelligence) — are coming fast and make this all the more urgent.

Resistance to Change 

To thrive on change, first we need to understand resistance to change. Here are three aspects of a change-resistant mind: 

  • “I don’t want this to be or to happen.” A “don’t want to” attitude is common, but it’s not effective for moving forward. To make a change work for you, learn to respond with willingness, open-mindedness and genuine interest.
  • “I want this, but I want it to turn out in this specific way.” In this case, there is interest in the change, but only if it turns out your way. Often, we have little or no control about whether change will happen. However, we can control our attitude and have influence by joining in the process to work toward the best outcome.
  • “I am confused by it all and I withdraw so I don’t have to work to understand and engage.” This is the freeze aspect of fight-flight-freeze. When we freeze, we take no action; instead, we hesitate. It is better to take a stand, engage, and see what unfolds than to wait until your opportunity to have an influence passes.

Tools and Tips

Here are two tools to help you build a mindset that is open to change. 

Mindful Awareness: With mindfulness, we become aware of our interior responses, including feelings, physical responses, and mental reactions. We also tune in to the responses of others by asking what they’re feeling or thinking or by being empathetic.

Short-Leash Approach to Attention: Think about what it takes to train a puppy. With the puppy, you must use a short leash. The same is true with training the mind to stay on one task without letting it get distracted. Be ruthless with yourself. Stick to the task at hand by sharply pulling your attention back each time it wanders.

Here are some tips when adapting and embracing change:

  • Expect and accept change.
  • Know your potential and believe you have the capacity to change.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no if you have decided the opportunity for change is not a good direction for you.
  • Expect to make more mistakes when you are adjusting to change.
  • Change requires an extra output of energy to re-establish routine and flow. Take care of yourself: eat well, exercise and don’t burn yourself out.
  • If the load gets too heavy, it’s time to re-evaluate.
  • Embrace the opportunities for new learning, responsibilities, challenges, places and connections this change has created.

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