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Senior Correspondent

"They spend their time mostly looking forward to the past." John Osborne

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."  Charles Darwin

My job was eliminated. I haven't had to look for a job in 20 years.

My company moved its operations to China. I wasn't invited.

My business was acquired in a merger. I'm not sure if I should stay.

My family business is closing its doors. The economy finally caught up with us.

I have a new boss. I don't know if we mesh.

I quit my job. What was I thinking?

I'm retiring, but not quite ready to stop working. What will I do next?

My business partnership is ending. How can we continue operations?

As a business coach, I hear these scenarios on a regular basis. We all know the only constant is change, and the velocity of change is truly accelerating. There is no denying it. Individuals and organizations who commit to continuously improving their adaptability are more likely to survive and thrive. Those who do not develop this critical 21st-century competency may not.  

Change nearly always comes with a sense of personal loss. The fear of loss is the most common cause of resistance. Lack of information or the abundance of misinformation is often behind this fear. Resisting change saps the energy one needs to invest in adaptation to what is happening or what is about to happen.

We can get stuck somewhere between identifying the need for change and executing the change. Yet, there is often a significant upside to change waiting for us just on the other side of the abyss. The trick is to recognize when change is necessary or inevitable, face the fear proactively by gaining information, identifying the positive potential, and moving through as effectively and efficiently as possible. Practice makes us more agile and resilient agents of change, just as regular exercise and stretching make our bodies more fit and flexible.

My family enjoys a board game called Sequence. In a recent game, my team became so enamored of our strategy that we failed to pick up on our competitor’s pattern, developing on the board around us.  After losing a game or two, it dawned on me to become more observant of the subtle shifts on the board, minute by minute. Tuning into those seemingly minor pattern changes and adapting our play accordingly made all the difference. Exercising and building our change-muscle is something we all must do to survive in today's workplace, as well as to thrive personally. I love this particular board game for that reason. It causes me to exercise and strengthen my adaptability.

As we strengthen our individual adaptability, we are in a better position to help our workplaces, churches, or volunteer organizations adapt. As more of us focus on developing this critical competency, we can become more of a cause than effect in the matter of changes that are taking place in our communities and the world at large. Adapt. Accelerate. Innovate. Learn. Transform.  These are 5 competencies we must add to our roles in our lives and job descriptions. This positions and re-positions us to win.

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