A man walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, “Doc, every time I see nickels, dimes, and quarters, I have a panic attack! What’s my problem?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” the doctor answered. “You’re just afraid of change.”
Yeah, I know. A sick joke.
But the truth is most people are afraid of change, to some extent. They’re afraid their company might change and their job will disappear. They’re afraid a competitor will take some of their customers. They’re afraid their spouse might change and not be the person they married. Whatever.
So how can you effectively deal with change when you’re forced to go through a lot of it? Do these three things.
=> 1. Find something to hang on to.
It may be your faith, your family, or even yourself. But you’ve got to have something to hang onto when the world is crashing around you.
That’s what the Allied Armies learned immediately after World War II. They were the ones who gathered up thousands of hungry, homeless children and placed them in large camps. It was there that the children were abundantly fed and cared for.
However, at night the children did not sleep well. They seemed restless and afraid.
And then one psychologist hit on the solution. After the children were put to bed, each one received a slice of bread to hold. If they wanted more to eat, more was provided. But this slice was to hold and not to be eaten.
The slice of bread produced marvelous results. The children would go to sleep, subconsciously feeling they would have something to eat in the morning. That assurance gave the children a calm and peaceful rest.
What are you hanging onto?
Make sure it’s something that comes to your mind … many times … throughout the day. It may be an affirmation you think, or a word of gratitude you say, or a power you acknowledge.
I know it works for me. I always carry a medallion in my left pocket and whenever I happen to stick my hand in my pocket, I’m reminded of the powerful, encouraging words printed on the medallion. It’s something I hang on to.
When I teach my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience, I teach people how to discover their purpose in life, which is a mighty thing to hang onto and gets you through all kinds of changes and challenges.
Rob Meyer, a manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield, says, “Your Journey surpassed every other seminar I have ever attended because you gave us detailed action steps and useable strategies. I learned exactly what has to be done to define my purpose, set my goals, become a positive thinker, and deliver appropriate recognition and criticism. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
=> 2. Acknowledge your feelings … but don’t let them take over.
All change produces discomfort. That’s normal. That’s what you’re going to feel when you go through a change.
It’s okay to acknowledge your feelings, that certain changes make you feel angry, upset, worried, or confused.
The catch is … you have to learn how to give your feelings a vote but not a veto. In other words, your feelings may give you some guidance in how you’re going to respond to the change, but they should never get the last word. Indeed, if you waited until you felt comfortable with a certain change, you may wait forever.
I remember that from my days in retail trade. We used to put a price sticker on every item in the department store and the cashier would manually key in every item at the checkout counter. Of course, we had a fairly high error rate because it was all too easy for the cashier to punch in an incorrect number. And it took a long time to process customers.
Then in the mid 1980’s, we started to use the bar code system. The cashier could simply scan in each item as he/she moved the item across an instrument that read the bar code and instantly recorded an accurate price.
At first, the employees were skeptical of the new scanning system. They even showed signs of fear. But after a while, the fear disappeared, and the cashiers loved the new technology. They made fewer mistakes and could check out more customers in a given period of time. If the scanners were taken away now, and if we reverted back to the use of sticker pricing and manual entries, the cashiers would not be pleased.
So what’s the point? People soon forget the fear of change … once they’ve realized the benefits of change.
Its okay to acknowledge your feelings, but don’t let them take over. Don’t let them stop you from implementing the changes you need to make or dealing with the changes you’re forced to accept.
=> 3. Keep on learning.
That’s right. Keep on learning, learning, learning … no matter how successful you’ve been in the past. You see … your past success only proves you were right once. It does not guarantee your future success.
As I tell the attendees at my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary” experience, when change is constant, learning is critical.
Unfortunately, successful people can be lulled into complacency. They can fall into the trap of thinking they already know everything they need to know. J. Paul Getty, one of the greatest success stories of the last 100 years, knew that. He said, “In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.”
You’ve got to learn as if you would live forever. And you’ve got to live as if you would die tomorrow.
And smart leaders support lifelong learning in their organizations. They know that the people who are not learning … are the ones who are the most fearful of change, and they’re the ones who fight the change. Bottom line … as psychologist Dr. Terry Paulson notes, “Frightened people fight.”
People fight what they do not understand. One clergyman had to learn that lesson. As he was walking down a country lane, he saw a young farmer struggling to load hay onto a cart after it had fallen off. “You look hot, my son,” said the cleric. “Why don’t you rest a moment?”
“No thanks,” said the young man. “My father wouldn’t like it.”
“Don’t be silly,” the minister said. “Everyone is entitled to a break. Come and have a drink of water.” Again the young man protested that his father would be upset.
Losing his patience, the clergyman said, “Your father must be a real mean man. Tell me where I can find him and I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”
“Well,” replied the young man, “at the moment he’s under that load of hay.”
The minister was fighting the young man because he didn’t understand the situation. He needed to learn the facts.
And the same goes for you. To make the best of any change situation, there is no substitute for continual learning.
About the Author:
Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught the 12 keys to Personal Peak Performance and Positive Productive Relationships to more than one million people. For a FREE guided tour of the 12 keys in this life-changing Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program, go to https://www.drzimmerman.com/tour.
Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 924 – What to do when change is constant