Standing in the Storm

Copyright 2006 So-lu’shunz Leadership Services

The gritty definition for the change called TRANSFORMATION suggests that life as you have known it has changed and will likely never be the same again.

Of the three faces of change, alteration/modification, swapping/replacing, and transformation, transformation is generally the most radical and therefore the most difficult to weather.

In planning transformative change, or when you sense its approach, begin to look for a spot of familiarity or residual normalcy. Start to take stock, recording your observations to help you manage them as the process unfolds. Make no sudden moves, considering your responses carefully, and finally, expect to be surprised, knowing that the unexpected can be around any corner and is surely the order of the day.

Here then are a few of the characteristics which can help you emerge victoriously from transforming change. Cultivating these characteristics increases your change hardiness. When all is said and done, you want to be standing when the dust clears. It has always been “change or be changed.” So let us begin.

1. Flexibility

One of the connotations of flexibility is elasticity. But better still and more valuable is suppleness. What a wonderful image.

A wrestling teammate of my son was the picture of supple. He was a risk taker whose positions were often precarious. But he was so supple, he would slither out of them repeatedly, a pleasure to watch. This same characteristic is useful when change seems to have you pinned.

The ability to completely relax, go loose in the face of the tidal wave of change, instead of tensing, will insure the suppleness to slither through the toughest elements of transformation. I am not advocating unnecessary risks, but a sense of adventure and fearlessness is helpful.

2. Willingness

Are you motivated? Whether the transformation is your idea or is being imposed on you, willingness will lessen the discomfort of the process.

Be prepared to view the situation through other eyes, purposely taking a new point of view. It may not alter your thinking about the change and its necessity, but it will adjust your perspective and that is healthy. You will develop valuable insight into the origin of the change you are dealing with and your future insights, pro and con, will be more valuable.

3. Vision

Those who have worked with me, in my classes, workshops or in private practice, know where I stand on Vision. It is stimulus and influence, the key to success in all areas of life.

The first step to everything is knowing what you are doing here in the first place, your Mission. Once clear on that, Visions are what shape lives, careers, entire futures and are the evidence of your life Mission. Without Vision, you meander aimlessly though life, dissatisfied at every turn. And without Vision, change of any kind will plow you under.

With Vision comes clarity, the understanding of your role in a given situation and the ability to focus your efforts and energies on the area that is specifically yours. From clarity of Vision comes on-target Goals to bring the Vision to fruition.

When you are clear, focused and motivated, change is not so daunting. Strong clear Vision births passion and ideates Goals. What more could you ask in the midst of transformative change?

4. Self-confidence

True self-confidence, not cockiness or brashness, is a valuable commodity whatever the challenge. A true understanding of your core value, your worth, will see you through the most traumatic types of change. It begins with self-esteem, that rare commodity in a society obsessed with self-improvement. I am definitely not against reasonable self-improvement, given a vision, a focus and a plan.

We are constantly beset by allegations that we cannot be worthy without whatever is currently for sale. Pick up any magazine and you are reminded on every page that your hair, clothes, skin, body shape, etc., do not measure up to some shifting standard set forth by those expects we call “they.”

Self-esteem does not migrate from the outside in, but comes from within. It is knowing you are valuable, worthwhile, whether your home is upgraded, whether your wardrobe, body and hair are currently in style, whether you drink designer or corner donut shop coffee. It is certainty at your core that you have a purpose, a job to do, and you are the best one to do it.

Assurance arises from that, security in your mind, freedom from self-doubt, and that brings you to the point of self-confidence. Know that you have something to offer that only you can offer and the world is waiting for you.

5. Resiliency

Resiliency might easily be confused with flexibility, but it has another dimension we need when facing radical transformation – durability, hardiness, the ability to come back strong no matter what.

The perennial comes to mind. In my garden I have a number of annuals, which grow quickly, bloom profusely and spread actively, providing that burst of instant garden we love. But they have no staying power, no durability. At the end of the hot summer, they are spent, ready to be yanked out of the garden. They are lovely while they last, but they are short-lived.

Ah, but the perennials, slower to grow, slower to bloom, often not profuse until several summers down the road, continue on year after year, putting down strong root systems and withstanding the toughest winters.

Showiness has its place, but the hardiness and ability to come back after the deep freeze and the driving snowstorm, now that’s something to possess.

6. Sense of adventure

A true sense of adventure involves a willingness to step out of your comfort zone, taking calculated risks and experiencing a certain enjoyment at the prospect of exploring the unknown. Children possess this characteristic and know how to bring it to almost every game. Somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood, it is misplaced. If you don’t accept the risk, you will never successfully ride the change wave and may not even begin the process. Run it by your accountability partner, someone with a proven track record, someone you can trust,.

7. Fearlessness

If I haven’t tripped you yet, this may be the characteristic that does. Take a closer look and you will see fearlessness is the end result of cultivating the rest. Flexibility, willingness, self-confidence, hardy resiliency and childlike sense of adventure bundled together wear the tag of fearlessness. Fearlessness develops as the end result of courage, which is simply acting in the face of fear.

Cultivate these characteristics. You are not born with them, so you have as good a chance as anyone to learn them. Then go forth right into the raging wind of change, knowing that not only can you withstand the experience but you are equipped to add value in the process.