Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
I know for a fact that Mr. Darwin was not referring to me. I also know that our fear of change is what causes us to be resistant to it. What are we so afraid of?
Is it because change forces us out of our comfort zones? When Sara’s department got assigned a new manager, there was anxiety in the workplace. What would this new person bring to the table? When Justin’s wife received a major promotion which involved a lot of travel, he worried that their relationship would suffer. When Kyle got divorced, his kids were in panic-mode. Where would they live?
Obviously, if the change is your own idea, you won’t resist it. If it’s not, then it becomes vital that you accept it; or, better yet, that you embrace it. Why? Well, for one thing, embracing change teaches you to be flexible, and generally speaking, flexible people are more positive in their overall outlook.
Embracing change can also make you more compassionate. When you open up your world to a new experience, you’re adding to your own file cabinet of emotions, and once filed away, you’ll have the ability to retrieve it when you need to share your wisdom with someone less enlightened. Take Jessy, for example. Three years ago, she was a freshman in college, living in a dorm in another state. First time away from home and not knowing a single soul was terrifying. Now Jessy’s a senior and serving as her dorm floor’s resident agent. She sees the fear on the shy, incoming freshman’s face and, since she was once that new girl, Jessy can help her to adjust. This wouldn’t have been the case if Jessy had continued to live at home while going to a nearby college.
Changes serve to bolster our strengths and ferret out our perceived weaknesses. How? Well first, you’re showing yourself that you can adapt, and even thrive in your changed circumstance, and second, you’re admitting that it wasn’t as bad as you feared. Note to self: once you got to know the new manager and realized that you two shared some goals for the company’s future success, you stopped dreading Mondays.
When we resist change, we are turning our backs on opportunity. If you’ve always avoided goat cheese (like me) and then somebody offered you $1,000 to taste it, would you still resist, or would you take a bite? I would absolutely take the money, and if that bite convinced me that it was actually delicious, look at all the new ways I could enjoy goat cheese!
We can choose whether to view change with fear or view it with positive anticipation. Even when the change is not your idea in the first place, you have the power to own your attitude toward that change. The result is strictly up to you.