While driving to my "office" here at the local coffee shop this morning, I couldn't help but notice that we are in our final week of fall color, as the trees are losing the last of their beautiful leaves. I took in the beauty with a tinge of sadness, but then realized that soon the barren trees will glitter, appearing crystallized as the overnight frosts grow stronger and deeper. The thought of yet another beautiful season before us took away any feelings of sadness, replacing them with a deep gratitude for what lies ahead.
We can learn so much about change from nature — especially trees. While we seem to resist change, standing firmly rooted in our comfort zone, trees embrace each season of change with such beauty and grace. As they grow older, trees become more grounded and deeply rooted in their community. They grow taller and stronger and absorb everything that goes on around them without allowing it to effect their health or their purpose. They take on a silent wisdom in all that they've witnessed and share that wisdom only with those who look deeply enough in their own curiosity. I think the most amazing thing about trees is that they contribute so much to our well-being, even after their time is past and they take on another form to support our needs. I only wish that all trees were allowed to live a full life before contributing to our society in a different form, but there's much to learn there as well. Trees never resist change.
Change. How do you adapt to it? How do you support others through change? Many people resist change, even if there is a promise of growth and opportunity within it. Here are a few tips on handling change. Do you have anything to add?
- If the change you are facing includes a true loss, make sure to take time to grieve. Acknowledge the loss and think about how the current situation has helped you to grow. Accept that you must grieve and that grieving is a process with much hope on the other side of it.
- If the change feels threatening in some way, take your thoughts out of your mind and onto paper. If you stay in your head you may create chaos and fear because your right brained fight or flight instinct kicks in. Organize your thoughts on paper so that your logical left brain can take over and minimize the fear. You might try journaling your thoughts, then making a list of the positive pieces of the situation. Take it from someone who's experienced much change, both tragic and wonderful; there is hope and beauty in all change if we allow it.
- For smaller change (like the last of the color on the trees) move your mind to the hopeful side of what's next. Just as I did this morning as I thought about the crystallized branches, you can find a touch of the positive in just about anything.
- To help others through change you might ask them leading questions like, "what's the potential for something good to come out of this?" and "What's the upside of the situation?" It's best to ask questions rather than make your own suggestions because it forces the person out of their negative space and allows them to own the more positive viewpoint as they come up with the answers.
- Take it one step at a time. Remember that most often the moment you're in is the same as the last. With most change, nothing occurs until you've taken action, which means that nothing has happened yet and there's no need to panic or feel upset about the change. Live in the moment, taking one step at a time. The first step is to logically process the perceived change.
- Lastly, recognize that change forces us out of our comfort zone — and that's usually a very good thing. If you wish for growth to occur it's typically not going to happen within your current space. Something has to change. So, if you want your company to make more money for instance, but things remain at a standstill, what can you do to promote change within yourself and try something new? Sometimes change forces us, but remember that we can also force change — and that's very empowering!
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.