The View from the Porch and the Constant of Change

Yesterday, I made the time to sit on the porch and enjoy the view. It was 70 degrees and it’s “crane season” in mid-Nebraska. My view included a several hundred thousand Sandhill Cranes returning to the Platte River at sunset. (I follow the weekly crane count on craneturst.org.)

It was a spectacular sight.

Then this morning, I awoke to rain, which turned to sleet, and then turned to snow. After I navigated my personal shock and dismay, I began to ponder my strong emotional response to the change that had occurred.

As it often does, my mind turned to leadership. When leaders are called upon to lead change, what strong emotional responses might accompany that calling? Fear, anxiety, apprehension, reluctance, resistance, hesitation, concern?

Neuroscience research tells us that the fear of change is ever-growing in humans. Mankind has a preference for routine, this has been proven over and over for generations. Our internal tendencies (heredity and genetics) teach us to resist change so that we can “always feel in control” and to fear change because “change brings loss,” loss of something we currently have. Many people are averse to change, so much that it can cause them to lose the ability to think logically – our amygdala gets high-jacked.

To combat the adversary, this fear of change, we need a strategy. Below are seven “Combat C’s” to ponder as you create your own strategy for leading through change.

Curiosity – Learn about your fear of change. What is it about?  What triggers it?  How does it make you feel? Intentionally choosing to learn about your fears first will position you to better lead others through their own fears.

Centering – When fear of change triggers you, pause and center yourself in the moment.  Return to the state of being curious. Try to identify what is feeding the fear.

Consider – Next, consider how those around you might feel about the change. It is likely that their brain is sending similar signals and they are feeling similar emotions.

Connect – This intentional consideration gives you an avenue of connection. You can have vulnerable discussions with your people regarding fears involved with change.

Communicate – Discussions related to change and fear are not one and done. Change brings feelings that can churn constantly. When change is imminent, PMI’s (personal management interviews) may need to increase to create a safe space to discuss the changes and the fears those changes are bringing to the surface.

Compassion – Starting with yourself, be compassionate.  Acknowledge that change is not easy. Find ways to care for yourself and then model this self-care throughout the transformation process. Lead by example.

Change – Reframe your mindset regarding change as the enemy.  Then work to create a culture that embraces change by identifying the personal growth and new possibilities that come with it.

Change, by definition, means to make or become different. So the opposite of change would be to stay the same. We know that staying the same just isn’t realistic.  You can successfully lead change by providing an example of self-awareness and understanding. As you continue to understand the underlying causes for your own responses to change – you create the ability for yourself to be the change and then lead the change.

Connie Hein
About the author

Connie Hein has accumulated 25 years working in behavioral health focusing on executive leadership and team building. She has deep experience in psychology and counseling.

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