Business Solutions: Embrace change, it can bring progress and new opportunities

by DAVE BENAK
Contributing Writer

American business continues to restructure in the face of ever-accelerating change. No longer just a force in the business environment - change is the business environment. People hoping to get through change and get "back to normal" need to understand that change is "back to normal."

As Greek philosopher Heraclitus said over 2,500 years ago, "Change is the only constant." It's relentless. There's no way to stop or avoid it. Change has become a fact of corporate life - it must be accepted and dealt with. Your best option is to make change work for you. Learn to not only survive, but to thrive on constant change.

Change is a good thing. Without it, we could make no progress. Nor would there be a past. Each new advance in human knowledge brings change. We have added more to our knowledge in the past 100 years than in the previous 10,000. As much as 25 percent of our current knowledge will be obsolete in the next decade.

Change is vital to our jobs. Technological, economic and social changes impact what we do and how we do it. Companies respond by changing how they operate to meet competition and the changing needs of customers.

Why do we resist change? There are many explanations. Mental projections (based on a future of forecast of stability) are uprooted. There's no control over the circumstances. The change was shoved down our throats. Change breaks rhythm. Starting over is a lot of work. There's nothing to hold onto. Change involves endings - leaving people and places and things behind. An element of risk is introduced that generates fear.

Change is not a reflection of personal worth. Corporate level changes are made for many reasons unrelated to an individual's productivity or talent. Most organizational changes are caused by circumstances beyond our control: increased competition, sharp economic swings, government regulations, consumer pressures, new technology, changing demographics and further globalization of the marketplace. The best we can hope for is to adapt to the new environment as quickly and efficiently as possible. So, how do we do that?

  • Anticipate change. You know that change is inevitable, so be ready at all times. That way, you'll be able to handle changes as they come. Nothing stays the same forever, so don't be surprised when it changes.
  • Be a positive thinker. Get rid of all negative thoughts and doubts. Don't focus on the negative aspects of any change in your life - the resulting insecurities, fears and doubts will hinder your ability to cope and adapt positively. An optimist can handle changes much easier.
  • Always keep an open mind. Try to see the benefits and good side of changes. Don't let fear, anxiety, doubts or irrational thoughts keep you from having an open mind and a balanced outlook.
  • Keep your thumb on the changes. Change can come abruptly, but most often occurs over a long period of time. When it comes suddenly, maintain your perspective and find ways to adapt to the changes.
  • Participate vigorously. Don't just sit there. Take charge! Work with the changes that happen in an around you - not against them.
  • Learn to adapt to change. Accept it. Then move on. Change happens for a reason. Remember that any changes occurring in your life also affect those around you. So don't hinder other people from moving on by your resistance to change.
  • Enjoy life. Strive to enjoy your life and the things brought about by the changes. Always keep a positive outlook. C'mon smile. That's better.
  • Encourage others. Sometimes the best way to deal with discomfort from the changes happening in your life is to forget about yourself and help others deal with and adapt to the changes.

Change is never easy but humans have an enormous capacity for it. While it's awkward and uncomfortable at first, the best way to get past the discomfort is to focus on the desire to change and the willingness to be part of it.

It's only human to feel nostalgic about the old way of doing things and to literally fear change. We may worry about someone taking over our job or getting swept aside by a new organization or procedure. It's normal and natural to feel threatened or insecure during times of change. But change means progress and new opportunities that result in job creation, efficiency and more opportunities for everyone.

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