Embrace the Disruption: Why Change is Necessary

“It’s a dog’s life” is a phrase that originated in the 16th century when dogs were expected to guard the home and surrounding community. Their lives were short because they slept outside and were fed scraps of food. Life in those days was not good for dogs. It was far from the life of the present day canine friends that we know and love.

Today’s dogs are house pets. Well-fed and groomed, they sleep inside, often in our beds with us. They are treated better than they were centuries ago and live longer lives, indicating a big shift — one that involved embracing change. If someone now states that you have a “dog’s life,” it conjures up images of breakfast in bed, being pampered, laying around the house all day, and in general living a good life. Change is not always a bad thing you see. Sometimes change can be downright necessary and great!

How we adapt to change is a different story.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”- Charles Darwin

To put it in human perspective, change is necessary when people face a discrepancy between what is expected and what is actually happening. This is called disruption. In order to properly adjust to this change, new expectations must be formed to suit the current conditions. It takes time and energy for these adaptations to occur, and it is best accomplished when your mind, body, and spirit are in alignment. You must begin by mentally acknowledging the situation exists. Expect to deal with the emotional components of change, which can surface as anxiety, despondency, happiness, elation, fear, relief, etc. Physically your body may feel the adverse effects of stress, which can evidence itself in the form of headaches, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, tiredness, and nausea, to name a few.

For change to be beneficial, the people involved must possess sufficient energy to absorb and incorporate new behaviors and accompanying mindsets. The capacity necessary to absorb the disruption is known as resilience. Resilience is the ability of an individual or a system to deal with change and continue to develop. In the book Resilience Thinking, scientist Brian Walker and science writer David Salt present a conceptual overview along with five case studies in the real world investigating how the interacting systems of people and nature can best be managed in the face of disturbances, surprises, and uncertainty.

There must be resources available to implement the change. When the demand for change exceeds the ability to adapt, overload occurs, often evidencing itself in the form of dysfunctional behaviors. On a personal level this may equate to a breakdown in marital and parent-child relationships or diminished performance in the workplace. Research points to the enhanced nature of resiliency in women.

In the Harvard Business Review, Shaun Achor and Michelle Gielan write about the importance of recovery time after a disappointing or negative incident. What appears critical is not how much you can endure, but how well you can recharge and move forward. They contend that this recovery is crucial for resilience.

On an organizational level, staying relevant in today’s complex, dynamic marketplace requires new innovative, adaptive behaviors that embrace change. Change is important for any organization if they intend to retain their competitive edge and meet the needs of their steady customer base. To do otherwise would constitute failure. Organizations and people that embrace change and effectively innovate, adapt, and perform through a hardship will survive. Those who resist the change may fail in the face of adversity.

When stressed, resilient people and organizations often bounce back stronger instead of being hindered by their own inability to change. Resiliency is characterized by:

  • Focus- the ability to concentrate and put forth positive effort.
  • Flexibility- the ability to be open to new approaches and ways of dealing with the situation at hand.
  • Proactive Approach- the ability to foster a climate that offers opportunities to learn and improve.

So before you go grab the proverbial bone, jump on the couch, and curl up under the blankets in an avoidance response to the change unfolding before your eyes, remember one important thing: The days you are most satisfied are not the days you laid around and accomplished nothing. They are the days you rose to the challenge and accomplished great things.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.” –Paulo Coelho

In the rapidly changing landscape of life, change itself is the only constant. Why not embrace it?

An executive coach and speaker, Elisa Grandizio brings 20+years of personal and professional experience as a wife, mother, businesswoman and entrepreneur. Her current focus is channeled into helping others attain excellence and balance in their lives.

This post was originally published on Ellevate and shared with permission.

Ellevate Network believes in the positive impact of women in business. Our mission is to help women advance in the workplace, both for themselves and the greater good. We strive to change the culture of business from the inside out – by investing in women.