Why doesn’t change follow a straight line? If it only would be that easy.
Change can happen to us so easily. Bosses give us new assignments, significant others want us to change our bad habits, or from one day to the next we may even lose our jobs. When that happens the expectation of our counterparts is that change happens in a straight line and that we just deal with it and move right along. Yeah, right.
It’s that simple: You are here at “A” and you “only” need to go to “B” and voila, you are done. The concept may be simple, but it isn’t that easy though. We are humans. What most people do not consider is that change happens in a “U” shaped curve through a pivotal point “C” (as per the illustration, click on it to enlarge it).
Let’s look at a job loss for instance and examine it a little closer. Unfortunately, this happens more frequently than we think and one day it may be you or I to whom this happens. From one day to the next you are without income and your financial and personal well-being is put in jeopardy.
Anger is the most frequent response you will feel. How dare someone change your future without your involvement! Shortly thereafter you may start to grief for you’re the comfort of your daily routine and you start missing the people that you used to work with.
You may start disbelieving that all of this really happened: “How could this have happened to ME?”. Resisting any notion that this tragic event happened to you may totally take the wind out of you. You are at the lowest point, literally and figuratively.
Good news is that you have approached the pivot point “C”. If you condition your brain enough you finally start looking up again and you feel optimistic enough to look around again.
Now you start exploring opportunities. Perhaps you are prototyping a few things just to see how they may play out. Finally, you reach the other leg of the “U”. You emerge at “B” and you commit to a new job or career and let go of the past.
Most leader-managers and family and friends forget though, that you may be moving up and down the “U” curve like a rolling pin. You may go through all the different stages again and again for a while. I have had a few friends who had not left this stage of utter confusion for months before they finally moved on with their lives.
Good thing is that all of it is part of a very natural process. When you are in the middle of it, just be cognizant of it and let every stage happen to you. Do make the effort not to stay on the left side of the “U” between “A” and “C” – you are wasting your and everybody else’s time and energy.
Beware of the powerful dynamics of change. The moment a person or situation demands a change of your behavior make sure to remember the different stage and always rest in comfort knowing that you can go from “A” to “B” via a (hopefully) brief pit stop though “C”. Never roll up and down both sides for long. Get up and out to your version of “B” as fast as possible.