Copyright 2006 So-lu’shunz Leadership Services
Change, which we so adroitly avoid, has three faces, alteration/modification, often imperceptible or limited, swapping/replacing, exchanging one distinct entity for another and transformation, movement from one distinct state or condition to another, often as a passage experience. This most unnerving face of change often throws us completely.
In Lewis Carrolls Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice, in her curious experiences, becomes familiar with transformation. Her size changes alone were so pronounced they have their own designation, transmogrification. Surely we can imagine her bewilderment and anxiety at these unsettling and highly disruptive changes.
Raised in the Victorian era, ever the polite child, Alice misses her opportunities to take control of this topsy-turvy world. What might Alice have done differently, or for that matter, any of us experiencing bewildering, unsettling experiences with transformation? Try these commonsense suggestions.
STOP AND TAKE STOCK
Alice missed her chance for this and consequently see-sawed from one alarming size to another. Once she chose to react in desperation, the possibility of mastering the unsettling circumstances of change flew out the window.
To avoid Alice’s mistake, do what it takes to land on solid ground, however briefly. Stop the cycle of knee-jerk reaction and begin thinking in terms of planned response. The end result will prosper from a brief rationality break. But how do you gain that moment of clear thought when you are in the throes of the life altering circumstances?
If the transformation is external, try to step away briefly, temporarily removing yourself from the scene of the mayhem. It will still be there when you return, but you will be better able to deal with it.
If the change is internal, or the transformation is physical, try to withdraw your mind from the circumstances. I do not suggest that this is easy, but with some practice and perseverance, it is possible.
Now that you have taken stock and you have moved some distance from emotional reaction and toward mental response, deliberate action is crucial. Did you ever try to walk on a moving train? That is very similar to the sensation of navigating transformation. Move slowly until you get the hang of it.
Do not be afraid to take time to consider each move carefully before executing it and then build on it, assessing the results before moving to the next.
If the transformation you are facing is of a fast-paced or emergency nature, it does not disallow this action. Talk with any skilled first responder, a fire fighter, paramedic or police officer who has learned to operate effectively in just this manner. Countless lives and futures repeatedly hang on their ability to function in just this way. Speed of response does not disqualify wisdom and careful consideration, but it does require practice.
Practice weighing options and making carefully considered decisions under normal conditions, before transforming change overtakes you. Train your brain exactly how you want it to perform under the challenging conditions of change.
MAINTAIN A SPOT OF FAMILIARITY
However small, visits to a spot that remains untouched by the transformation process will go a long way toward keeping you steady when the newness of the circumstances threatens to overwhelm you.
If the transformation is planned, of your own choosing, incorporate this step into the plan at the outset. It may not seem necessary to you when you are in the distant perspective of the blueprint stage, but you will be glad you made provision for a comfort station once your journey of transformation begins!
Do not skip this step. It may well be the difference between victory and failure in coming through transformation relatively unscathed.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
When Alice decided to enter the mirror image world in Carrolls Alice Through The Looking Glass, she would have done well to practice this. As soon as she noted that things were getting curiouser and curiouser, it was a sure sign that the unexpected was to be expected!
In his 1886 classic, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensons main character not only invites but engineers the appearances of his malevolent alter ego – in the name of science. However, he misses this all-important step when designing what is truly the grotesque transformation to his evil side, Mr. Hyde. He mistakenly expects to retain control of the separation between the two sides of his nature, but of course he cannot and the results are horrific.
Alice loses her ability to discern dream state from reality and her reactions reflect this. Dr. Jekyll fails to expect the unexpected. But if you have used periods of normalcy as practice ground for responding rather than reacting; if you have formulated a Vision of how you will handle yourself in times of change and upheaval, if you are prepared to move deliberately, then you will have prepared yourself to shine in your moments of passage.
You will maintain a clear-headed ability, discernment and control of yourself in the process, and may even find yourself standing at the helm and plotting the course for others as well as!
* When you are planning transformative change, or as soon as you sense its approach, begin to look for a spot of familiarity or residual normalcy.
* Begin taking stock, recording your observations to better enable you to process them as the transformation progresses.
* Make no sudden moves, considering your responses carefully. Then expect to be surprised, knowing that the unexpected can be around any corner and is definitely the order of the day.