I was thinking about reactions to change the other day. To help my reflection I used a metaphor of being in the bath (one of my favourite things to do) and how this relates to my experience of change – it’s a strange metaphor to use, but stick with me!! I feel it drew out what I think are some interesting and hopefully helpful observations!
Imagine one day you are taking a bath, like you have done so many times before. The water is warm, you have the space to get washed in, plenty of time to do it and you have all the bubbles and nice smelling soap you need to do it – ah bliss!
However, before you know it someone comes into the bathroom and explains they need to add some people into the bath with you, they also need to add some cold water and other changes are being made to aspects of the wider bathroom.
(Yep, change can feel this uncomfortable, personal and scary!)
How do you react?
Do you listen and hear what they are saying, or are you so annoyed your nice bath is being disturbed you stop listening…
Has the critical voice in your head taken over with indignation, outrage and anger. Is it shouting at you to resist, defend and fight any changes to your comfortable routine, circumstances and environment – because no-matter what they say, change is bad, you are going to be worse off – you can’t see how you wouldn’t be.
Do you jump straight to Persecution – Who can I blame for what is happening to me? Who is at fault here? Who must pay the price? How can I complain?
Do you become a Victim – this always happens to me, it’s because people don’t like me, they’ve always had it in for me, why is everyone so mean to me, I deserve better than this but I’m always treated badly, why can’t I ever catch a break…
Do you become Self-righteous – if I was in charge I wouldn’t have done that, I would do it this way, I would do things so much better, I know better than them, they don’t know what they are doing, why are they doing this, this is being handled so badly – don’t they know anything!
(Or do you cycle through all three?)
Where is your focus?
- the here and now – you zoom in on what is happening right here, right now, to you in this moment
- the future – you zoom out, take in the wider context, assess the possibilities? the opportunities? what might be?
- the negative – you frame the situation on what is bad? what is wrong?
- the positive – you frame the situation on what is good about the situation? what I am grateful for? what is staying the same? what can I learn from this? how can my past experience help me?
Which focus will stand you in good stead to overcome the changes?
What mind-set will give you the best possible chance of adapting to the change?
Change is not personal. Yes, it impacts your personal situation, but far broader business, economic and financial factors are at play.DBKT Coaching
What action do you take?
- Do you seek to understand why the changes have been made?
- Do you reflect on whether you should have been led in the warm bath for as long as you have been?
- Do have an attitude of gratitude that you are still able to have a bath, you now have company and you still have the ability to get washed?
- Do you work with the people who have been added to your bath and come up with more innovative, creative and fun ways to get the job of washing done more efficiently?
- Do you jostle with the other people to get more space? Do you get yourself into a space where you have ‘won’ more space but to the detriment of others who are even more uncomfortable?
- Do you spend time splashing water at the person who added the cold water and people to your bath? (Hey, at least getting them wet makes them experience a fraction of the uncomfortableness you are experiencing)
- Do you complain, moan and bitch to the other people who have joined your bath about how awful and unjust the situation is so they get ‘on side’ and you create an toxic group, a bath full of unhappy people splashing others in the bathroom, not being overly effective in your task of getting washed and making a lot of mess in the process?
- How do you view the other changes being made in the wider bathroom? Do you care about what is going on outside of the bath tub, do you engaged with these changes? or because you are still cold and uncomfortable, you don’t care about the wider context and the opportunities this may bring?
So… what is stopping you from getting out of the bath, if you hate it so much?
- What is stopping you from finding alternative ways to make a success out of your new situation/environment/conditions?
- Have you thought about why the person added these conditions to your environment? Walk in their shoes to gain another perspective?
- Are you expecting someone else to come along and sort this out for you? Why might you be expecting someone else to do this? What changes can you make? What is within your control?
- Are you waiting for things to ‘go back to normal’? How realistic is this? What impact does waiting have on you?
- How could you innovate and collaborate to turn the new situation into something more successful and even better than before?
- Why are you looking at what you have lost rather than what you have gained i.e. two new bathing buddies?
- How does blaming the person who added these conditions serve you? What is splashing them really going to achieve? What impact is it having on them?
- How can you use the changes happening in the wider context of the bathroom to serve you?
- What do you need to be at peace with the change?
Very often, when change comes and disrupts our comfortable way of doing things, we view it as personal, we resist and fight for the status quo to remain. We don’t appreciate the wider context. We don’t see what others may be trying to do to help us. We don’t see the opportunities within change. We take it personally, we seek to place blame, we want others to ‘pay’, we hold a grudge and we expect others to make it better for us.
We have to change this mindset if we want to thrive in the fast paced, changing world that we live and work in. We need to experience, process and move through the emotions that change triggers within us, otherwise we become stuck, unhappy, bitter and cynical.
It’s not the change itself that causes pain, it’s the way we think about itRogers
In a complex world, where we are not operating in absolutes, and there is no right and wrong – you might be right and I might be right, but a decision has to be made one way or another. Where change is ever present – we are and will continue to be disrupted in our routines and comfortable ways more frequently. It is vital we develop coping mechanisms that will serve us well and don’t diminish our power by taking up unhelpful stances and positions (persecutor, victim, self-righteous) which breeds bad feeling and toxicity within ourselves and others. We need to learn to adapt and change in a more positive, grateful and accepting way for the sake of our mental wellbeing and ability to thrive.
The world and the people within it are imperfect but the opportunities for growth are vastGarcia & Miralles
There is a lot of change happening at the moment. Leaders play a key role in supporting their people and teams through times of change. But you have a fundamental responsibility for yourself. You are the leader of your own life. You have the freedom to choose your thoughts and actions. Lead in a way that serves you and your wellbeing best.
Do you recognise yourself in this metaphor – are you stuck and you want to move through the changes that are happening to you in a more positive and proactive way? Are you are leader and struggling to move your team through changing times? Get in touch and let’s have a chat about how we can work together to support you, your team and organisation to thrive in a changing world – email: firstname.lastname@example.org