Rolling With Change
This is a guest blog from James Dauer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Mr. Dauer sees Behavioral Health patients at our Smokey Point location.
Let’s face it. For the most part, we do not like change. We like what we like. Back in the Day and The Good old Days are common pop culture themes that direct our mind to a better time and place—at least for some. Such themes resonate with today’s modern lifestyle and have made their way into music and the movies.
Remember When is a moving song by country music star Alan Jackson that chronicles life in the context of love, family, and change. The song is touching because it captures both the joys and sorrows of change,
“Remember when old ones died and new were born life was changed, disassembled, rearranged We came together, fell apart And broke each other's hearts Remember when…”
The movie No Country For Old Men presents change in a different way. Set in the 1980’s, the sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) is struck by how violent the culture has become. The old men remember a time when senseless violence was not as prevalent. Something has changed. The movie is hard to watch -- but not just because it has a few violent scenes. It’s hard to watch because the violence is so senseless from our view as the moviegoer, and because we can see how the violence makes sense to the warped minds of the characters.
What I like about the song and movie is how both expressions find a way to roll with change. Part of rolling with change is just accepting the fact that things have changed. If you are like me, my initial reaction is, “Why do things have to change?” When I go running now, my knees hurt. They didn’t before. And after I finally figure out how to use my phone and those fancy Apps, it’s time for a new one. Nothing stays the same.
Whether change takes place in our home or our workplace, it’s never easy and rarely fun. To help understand and deal with change, I have found it helpful to view change through metaphors. Metaphors can give us a poetic way of looking at a situation, and give us new direction to engage change.
Metaphors for Change:
The Tale Wagging the Dog. This metaphor suggests that the order of operations is in reverse. This could be a child setting limits for parents, a player telling the coach what to do, or an employee dictating how his department or workstation will be run. Advice for tail-waggers: As unfair a situation may feel, find a way to diplomatically communicate your concerns, suggestions, or solutions.
Catching a Falling Knife. This metaphor suggests that some problems may be too late to solve and if you try to solve it, pain and suffering is sure to follow. This could be like trying to address a problem 3 years after it started. By then it is ingrained. If Johnny historically hates doing homework after playing 6 hours of his favorite first-person shooter video game, there is a good chance he will hate doing homework tonight after his game is over. Advice to Knife Catchers: be proactive and frontload your problem as much as possible through preventive action.
Death by Paper Cuts. This metaphor suggests that sometimes little problems add up to big problems. This could be by putting on extra calories with a few extra $4.00 coffee drinks here and there, wasting money by leaving the heater on at home when gone, or having wasteful business expenses. Advice for Paper Cut Owies: the former CEO of GE said, "Change before you have to!" Sloppiness, inefficiency, dropped calls, frowns, bad attitudes, and so on really do bring down your personal finances, any team, or any organization for that matter. Control what you can and be great today!
Squeezing the Water balloon. Ever squeeze a water balloon? This metaphor suggests that one can apply pressure or make an impression but have no real impact. This is the parent that yells at his child for poor grades, or the coach that belittles a player for striking out, or the boss that yells at or threatens his employees. Advice for Squeezers: give clear direction, plans, or skills on how to make positive change.
Hop on the Bus. I actually don’t care for this metaphor. It suggests there is a single driver leading the team and our passive participation is requested. Grin and bear it is not a strategy for dealing with change. Change is never easy but we can make it easier by cooperating and trying to fit in with the rhythm of change. Focus on accepting and adapting to change, as if you actually chose what has changed. Don’t just put up with it, embrace it. Putting up with change is okay, but embracing change leads to transformation and the new you/new team/new organization.
Do you have any metaphors to help you deal with change or have any metaphors you find particularly unhelpful? Leave your comments below.