Change Before You Have To

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There was an image we used to have of what made for a successful business person, parent or even neighbor. It was predictability. A person worked hard at their job, earned a 30 or 40-year service pin, raised a family, and belonged to the same church. It was all neat and tidy. Changing jobs or relationships or churches or even leaving the town was considered unusual.


Change is Inevitable

Times have changed. “Stability” is no longer always possible. Who envisions their company (or their job) will be in place 40 years from now? Who views the family dynamic, their place of worship or even their community of remaining the same?

Daily, the way we communicate, our technology, our priorities, our obligations, and our very living conditions change. If we are not adaptable, if we can’t take on new challenges, if we can’t keep improvising, re-training ourselves and being open to anything that comes along, the big picture will elude us. In times past, people expected stability, in present times, we expect change.

There are those among us who will resist change with every breath of their being. Rather than accept a new challenge, they might stay in a job that does not challenge them. Rather than appreciate that their children might not go into the same business they are in, might have an opportunity in another city, want to raise their children in their own way or use technology they have no desire to learn, there might be animosity. For some, when an unexpected curveball is thrown at them, rather than adapt, they will become bitter and become inflexible. Please don’t fall into that trap.


Respond Don’t React

Adaptability requires us to be active and not passive about our lives, starting with the realization that stability in all things might have served our parents or grandparents, but times have changed.

The more adaptable you can become, the more you will be valued as an employee, spouse, parent, community leader, volunteer sports coach or friend. In being open to change, you will usually be able to sit down, quietly respond and be able to make adjustments. Developing the adaptable mindset makes you naturally gravitate toward alternatives and solutions rather than “freaking out” when things go awry. If we search the Internet, we can usually find video clips of airline passengers melting down at the gate when their flights are delayed or angrily yelling at fast-food workers when the restaurant runs out of French fries! Things happen. We must expect they will happen and we should always be adaptable to that change.

It also brings up the issue of response. Unhappy, non-adaptive people will yell at a harried ticket agent or restaurant employee. Why? Sometimes being quiet is the best thing. The proper response might be, “One thing is for certain. You can’t control the weather. Let’s check our options.”

Therefore, in adapting to something minor such as a problem with the French fry machinery you can start to realize what is important – and what’s not. If you can’t have French fries that day, try something else. Adapt to things you can control, and let go of things you can’t.


Try Something New

What are everyday situations that make you feel uncomfortable? I’m not suggesting you start each day with a bungee jump, but try taking an Uber to work instead of driving yourself. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the change in your transportation routine. Don’t think you’d like going to a bazaar? You may end up surprised at what you find and whom you meet? Don’t believe you like a particular food? Why not try it one evening?

My point is that those people who adapt and leave their comfort zones become more comfortable when life throws them a curve. For example, one morning you may trudge out to your car and find a flat tire. Isn’t it better to know you have already downloaded the Uber app and take one to work and remedy the tire when you get home?

The more you celebrate adaptability, the more centered and positive you will become. When in doubt, choose to adapt. Adaptability is the power to change before you have to.



For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.