We live in a world with tremendous possibilities, endless opportunities and more choices than during any other time in history.
With the choices and freedoms we enjoy, come a variety of challenges. The choices we make are not always positive. In fact, some of them can be self-destructive.
Choices bring with them increased responsibilities, challenges and changes. In the face of the myriad of options we have, our challenge is to make decisions that will advance ourselves, our communities, and our world.
Change and challenge often combined leave us in dynamic, fast paced and complex situations that we are not always prepared to deal with. Change, and the challenge of dealing with it, creates anxiety, discomfort and a feeling of uncertainty among many of us.
We simply become overwhelmed in the face of change – with all the other tasks and responsibilities that we have, the challenge to change is sometimes just too much.
When you feel this overwhelmed and burdened you want to reconnect with yourself and others – you want to make sense of what is happening and assimilate it with what you know to be true and certain. You would think that in the digital wonderland we live in, with information technology like the Internet at our fingertips, finding these connections would be fast and easy.
The reality is though, that despite these technologies (or perhaps because of them) we have become increasingly disconnected from ourselves, others, and the world around us.
More and more people are waking up to the fact that we need to get back to what really matters, what really will have an impact on our personal sense of safety, security, and well-being. Increasingly people everywhere are starting to re-evaluate their life’s direction.
This re-evaluation is happening at a personal level and at an organizational level as well. Now is the time for companies to start realizing the importance of working with their employees to create great work cultures that stimulate, motivate, and inspire people to be the best they can be. Now is the time for organizations to create cultures people can belong to.
In times of change or any other adversity, whether it is a personal change or a business transition, people in general tend to respond in two different ways: they withdraw for self preservation or they face their fear of change head on.
The interesting thing however, is that both responses are motivated by the same need – the need we all have for a sense of certainty in our lives.
Change, by definition, is uncertain, and our reaction to change reflects a desperate need to gain a bit of control.
Whatever the change you are facing, you can choose to deal with it head-on or head in the sand.
Those who choose the head in the sand approach when faced with adversity are the people who shut down and withdraw themselves. They do this in order to protect themselves. Their feelings of frustration, anger, and anxiety are too much to cope with all at once, so they retreat.
Unfortunately their flight causes them to disconnect not just from themselves and their personal needs, but from others and the world around them as well. This disconnection is a fear reaction and if you run away from fear, you miss the opportunity to learn, to grow and to attract the things you really want in your life.
Fear of change is what prompts self-limiting behaviors and thoughts, rather than seize the opportunity to learn from the challenge and seek new truths about yourself.
A much more productive and positive reaction to changes and challenges is to face the fear head on. Rather than disconnect, this is a time to reconnect – reconnect with the person you really are – at your core.
Re-ignite your passion and meet face your challenges from a place of authenticity, resourcefulness and centeredness. When you are able to see every challenge, every frustration as an opportunity to grow and to contribute, you consciously expand your sense of self. You are able to tap into your inner resources and draw out the very best of yourself and others.
In times of change and adversity, we are all challenged to make choices and to make decisions. You may not be responsible for the circumstances or changes, but you are responsible for the decisions you make within those circumstances.
Dieter Pauwels is a life and career coach, speaker and author based in St. Louis, MO.
He facilitates personal and organizational transformation and works with both individuals and teams to create new possibilities, navigate change and maximize their productivity and personal effectiveness.