By Matthew Spooner
“Everything flows, nothing stands still.”
“Nothing endures but change.”
“You could not step twice into the same river.”
-- Greek philosopher Heraclitus, over 2,500 years ago
Change is the one thing that is constant.
If you expect everything to go in one direction, you’re likely to be disappointed – even shocked -- when events don’t cooperate and you are caught without a “Plan B,” the famous backup plan.
That was the story of a dear friend of mine who experienced an immense challenge in his personal life. He was shocked when he discovered that his wife had an affair.
He told me he felt his world had turned upside down. He loved his wife immensely. When he heard from her that she had an affair, he fell into a pit of despair. He tried his best to piece his relationship together. When he sunk into a depressive pit of drinking, I encouraged him to move out and get his own space.
This change scared him at first. I coached him on this transition, speaking with him every day. Five years later, he is happily in another relationship and a much happier man. His ability to successfully overcome this unexpected, and painful challenge, undeniably tested his character.
Today, he is stronger than ever: with his own business, and in a long-term relationship with someone he feels is amazing. If not for his divorce, he would not have met this amazing person.
My friend admitted to me how this painful experience shaped his character and made him a better person. Change can do that. Embracing change and emerging stronger from it can mold a better you.
Embracing change was the focus of a study by psychologists and neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. They found the brain’s sensitivity to unexpected outcomes plays a fundamental role in the ability to adapt and learn new behaviours.
Key message from the study: Our ability to be flexible and open to different possible outcomes strengthens our ability to adapt to new environments and situations. This builds character. By identifying 3 possible outcomes and your degrees of acceptance, you can embrace change.
When faced with a challenge or decision, identify 3 possible outcomes:
1. Your ideal outcome
2. Your acceptable outcome
3. Your bottom line
By identifying your “bottom line,” you know when to stand up for yourself. You know when you need to walk away from a situation. You know how to respect yourself.
Change is inevitable. Keeping flexible and open to possible outcomes can help you transition more smoothly through a period of change.
Everything flows, nothing stands still.
Nothing endures but change.
You could not step twice into the same river.
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved."
-- Helen Keller
Co-founder and Managing Director, Crescendo Communications Consulting