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Do you embrace change?

Posted November 20, 2013 • Change • by Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D.

Why are we so resistant to change, even when change is good for us? Maybe it’s because we are creatures of habit, but I think it’s more than that.

Yesterday, I was coaching a senior executive at a multinational financial services company. She has two Ivy League degrees, has been promoted many times throughout her career, and makes important decisions every day.  However, I am working with her in part because she got feedback in her last performance review that she is not “confident enough” in her work. She usually has the right answer (being the successful finance executive that she is) but she often wants other people to check her work, “just in case I overlooked something or don’t have all the data”.

Don’t have all the data? Since when do any of us have all the data?!

Talking with her, the image that came to mind was of my five year old daughter, surrounded by all her stuffed animals on her bed. Sometimes, when life gets rough (yes, life sometimes does feel hard even for a five year old!), my daughter goes into her room, climbs up onto her bed, surrounds herself with all her stuffed animals, and feels safe and happy and content.

I am proud of her for that. That is what we call, in psychological terms, “adaptive” behavior. When things get tough, the tough go hide and make ourselves feel comfortable and secure! This is a great strategy for facing the world. Retreat, get comfortable, and THEN GO BACK OUT when you are ready.

The problem is, many of us get so comfortable in our safe havens (whether that is being surrounded by our stuffed animals or thinking to ourselves, “What if I don’t have all the data?” or, “What if I’m wrong?”) that we fool ourselves into thinking that we can stay there forever and be safe.

The fact is, the world keeps changing while we’re in our safety zones. And that world, by nature, EXPECTS THE SAME OF US.  The natural forces of the universe pull for change. Human beings are meant to evolve, change and grow over time. So are organizations and careers. If we pretend that we can stay in our bubble of safety while the world around us changes, we are mistaken.

As the seasons change (whether we like going from warm, sunny summer, to cold, windy winter or not!) we must take their directives and change along with them.

Change is natural. How will you embrace it?