Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Helping Others Embrace Change

 

Over the last two months, my oldest daughter and I have been visiting some of the nearby high schools during their open house events. Although she won’t be going to high school next September, my wife and I felt it would be helpful for her to get a better understanding of what high school is like, in preparation for that inevitable transition. I’ve had many parents caution me about how dramatically things will change when our kids start going to high school; of how they’ll no longer be those carefree little kids we fondly remember from those early years of being a parent.

As I’ve never given this much thought, I was curious about how I’d react to seeing my daughter walking around those hallways and classrooms, knowing that she’d be doing that again in just a few years as a student at this school. Despite all the warnings from other parents, I didn’t feel apprehension or wariness as we toured the various high schools in our area.  Instead, I found myself excited about my daughter moving on from the safe, familiar confines of elementary school and into this whole new world to explore and learn. More importantly, though, was the fact that my daughter was excited about going to high school – to the point where she wished she didn’t have to wait so long to start attending some of the classes she was introduced to on those visits.

While it’s easy to understand my daughter’s reaction, I wondered what was behind the feeling of anticipation I felt. Obviously, part of it was due to seeing my daughter’s enthusiasm for the things she’d be able to learn and do in high school. But I also realized that it was because I didn’t see this upcoming, inevitable change in both our lives as something negative. Rather, I viewed it as a wonderful opportunity for my daughter to expand her knowledge in different disciplines, as well as having the chance to makelots of new friends

As adults, we do tend to regard change as something to be avoided; that living our lives by some consistent routine provides us with the notion of comfort and security. And yet, this contradicts the very nature of our lives given that since the day we were born, we’ve endured a life full of change. We went from babbling incoherently and crawling on all fours, to speaking fluently in a taught language and walking on our two feet. We went from riding our tricycles to the playground to driving our cars to work.   As Robert C. Gallager wrote “Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine”.

So, why then do some of us avoid change – fear it even – as being something that will turn over our happy little apple cart?

One reason is that many of us no longer have that encouragement and support we had growing up in dealing with changes in our lives. As children, we had teachers to help us as we struggled to learn new concepts and methodologies. We had our parents around to nurture and guide us, giving us that reassurance that we’d find our way through the perceived chaos. And we had our friends who were in that same boat with us, staring out at the uncertain future that stood before us.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that as adults we have to do it alone, but invariably that’s what we end up doing; another reason why we try to avoid change in our lives.

So how do we stop avoiding change and start learning to embrace it? Well, first we need to find those people in our lives who encourage us to see change for what it really is – an opportunity to explore new avenues and along the way, learn something about ourselves. We need to look to those in our inner circle who will support us as we embark into these uncharted waters, and who will push us to not turn away when we start to lose our foothold on that familiar, predictable territory.

And just as important, we ourselves need to be that very person who will encourage and support those around us to open themselves to change, and the opportunity for self-discovery that comes along with it. By being there for others in how they face change, we can see first-hand the benefit from the lessons learned, either from successful outcomes or failed attempts. And with that insight, we can appreciate the world of possibilities that opens up when we embrace change in our lives.

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Comments » | Tags: , , , , , | December 1, 2009 by |

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