Welcome the Challenge of Change

Joyce Weiss Do you ever wonder how you will be able to deal with even one more change in your day? Welcome to the new work reality in health care. The 50 years between 1970 and 2020 we will experience change equal to the last 500 years. Change is not new my friends, its the rate of change that is so challenging.

Change is inevitable in this fast-paced world. Some major changes in our lives relate to health, jobs, relocation, a new boss or coworker, death of a loved one, or divorce. Minor changes could be the weather, your hair style, new eyeglasses or contacts. These minor changes may seem insignificant, but they affect us every day.

British musician and composer John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." French novelist Victor Hugo wrote, "The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible. For the faint- hearted, it is the unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant, it is ideal." And Will Rogers, noted American author, actor, and down-home philosopher, said, "Those were great old days! But darn it, any old days are great old days, even the tough ones. After they are over you can look back with great memories." So much change has occurred in such a relatively short time! When you think about it, the only person who really likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.

Participants in my workshops sometimes complain when I ask them to change seats and find new partners for an exercise. They groan, "Do we have to?" or "I like my space!" These activities challenge their comfort zones. Yet others thrive on change and love to be paired with new people. Courageous people face the fear of change.

Be prepared for change. Flexible people will succeed better. A classic example of flexibility is in the popular Aesop fable, The Oak And The Reed. A proud oak tree grew on the banks of a stream. For a hundred years it withstood the buffeting of the winds. Then one day a violent storm felled the great oak with a mighty crash into the swollen river and carried it toward the sea. The oak tree came to rest on the shore where some reeds were growing. The tree was amazed to see the reeds standing upright. "How did you manage to weather that terrible storm?" the Tree asked. "I have stood up against many a storm, but this one was too strong for me." "That's just it," replied the Reed. "All these years you have stubbornly pitted your great strength against the wind. You were too proud to yield a little. I, on the other hand, knowing my weakness, didn't resist. The harder the wind blew, the more I humbled myself, so here I am!"

Start with a little change at a time. Alter just a few small habits daily. For example, listen to a new radio station, watch a new TV program, or read a different newspaper. Go out to lunch with a new friend or different coworker. Raise your standards when you want to change. It's time to modify the limited belief that you've always done it a certain way before, and therefore you can't change.

We cannot change a habit by simply talking. We must take action. If you want your life to improve, you must adjust your daily routines.

Each time I want to make a change in an aspect of my behavior, I do the following exercise. I put 10 pennies in my right pocket in the morning. Each time I notice I am using a new skill or breaking an old habit, I move a penny to my left pocket. At the end of the day I count the pennies in each pocket and review the actions I took to change my habit. This is an easy exercise. The results are obvious, the rewards uplifting. I stopped using the expression "you know" by doing this. It works!

The best advice we can give future generations, our children or coworkers, is to constantly upgrade our skills. Keep your resume updated and be flexible. When my children were young, I met a little girl named Susie who was afraid of bearded men. Since she was starting nursery school her mom took her to meet the mothers and children in the car pool, to prepare her so she wouldn't be afraid. Wouldn't you know it, on day one, one mother became ill and sent her husband to pick up the children. He had a full-grown beard. Even though Susie's mom tried to prepare her, change is constant and inevitable, and Susie had to confront her fear. We must all learn to adapt to change. Susie surely did. She grew up and married a man with a full beard.

When you find yourself doing well and are satisfied in a personal or business-related situation, challenge yourself and ask how you can do better. People lose out when they think they have achieved their goals and don't need to improve or prepare.

The next time a change occurs in your department or at home instead of complaining or looking at it as a negative, look for the opportunity. It is not always so obvious. It does take long at times. A wonderful group of health care engineers shared with me that one of the biggest opportunities in their department is that increased job tasks have increased their sense of responsibility especially in the decisions of the hospital.

Please share with me any opportunities that have happened to you at work because of some recent change. I will send you a motivational gift in return. I look forward to being with you again. Please remember to enjoy the journey.

This article and tips are Copyright © Joyce Weiss.

Joyce Weiss, P.O. Box 250163, West Bloomfield, MI 48325-0163 1-800-713-1926, http://www.joyceweiss.com, joyce@joyceweiss.com

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