By Barbara Schwarck, PCC, MPIA

Change. Do you love it, like it or hate it? Perhaps “it depends”. Since all of us deal with change on an ongoing basis, I thought it might be helpful to take a closer look at change.

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, “change” is defined as “to put or take a thing in place of something else; substitute for, replace with or transfer to another of a similar kind, to give or receive, to refresh, to become different”. But, what does change mean to you? I invite you to take a moment, right now, to reflect on the subject. If you have a piece of paper and a pen handy or your IPad, scribe what comes to mind.

For some of us, change is something with which we are not comfortable. We don’t like new things that we aren’t sure of. It seems more comfortable to hold onto the same “old thing” that doesn’t work than to replace it with something new. (It took me a whole year to buy a new laptop and a new PDA.) For others, change is something that can’t happen fast enough. Whenever something gets old or stale, be it a person, place or object, we want out, or in other words we want change.

When I look at the true definition of change I get very excited because I believe that change can be a wonderful process that will allow us to grow. We can remove the things that do not work and keep the things that do work. We can become more efficient and we can also become more loving. Change can impact our outside environment but also the inside environment. And, if we take a closer look, there is really nothing in the definition that we need be afraid of. So why are we?

I think that it is the “becoming different” part of the definition that is troubling for most of us. For most human beings, including leaders, executives and virtually anybody, the issue is usually our fear of becoming different and our uncertainty about that and how to manage our fear with respect to the unknown. If we can recognize that it is fear itself keeping us from changing, we have a better opportunity to manage the change process.

When we are aware of our emotions we can redirect them and not let them stop us. We can let them flow through us and allow for a better process to define itself. Since the process of change will never end, when we learn how to deal with it we have mastered one of the secrets of life – elimination of stress. So perhaps the time has come to invite the inevitable with passion, excitement and joy; make “change” your friend and you can’t go wrong.

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