change

I was invited to be a guest of a streaming television program this week which has the premise of connecting the guest and the host (two strangers) in a free form conversation that can in no way promote a business or product or place. Basically, its an unscripted conversation to goes where it goes in an effort for people to connect in shared humanity. What evolved a bit in the on-air discussion and even further after the cameras stopped rolling was a discussion about change.

More than 20 decades ago two alcoholism researchers labeled a six-stage model of change, a very deliberate way to incorporate a major change into your life. (The stages are precontemplation, contemplation, determination, action, maintenance, termination.) But the fact is change happens constantly and continually, and we often do not have time to precontemplate or contemplate an action.

One of the central tenets of Buddhism is impermanence, or the idea that everything changes all of the time, that everything is temporary. In business and life we forget that and it is the forgetting that that causes stress. The host of the program I was on left the comfort of her country and her city to take the show on the road. She was determined to go stay for two months in one particular place and that didn’t work out, which in turn was causing her anxiety about their decision to take the show on the road, where they were going, what they were doing and how they would pay for it. She explained to me that she “lived a sheltered life” and had been battling a lot of fears all of her life. She wanted to know how I “deal with change”.

I explained that I saw change as intrinsic to life. We biologically change every day. Our cells regenerate. Our nails and hair grow. Our bodies process beverages and food that nourish (or not) our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits.   Mechanically, we change our clothes each day; we choose from a variety of routes to take while driving or walking. In business, we deal with new customer issues or come up with creative solutions to repeat issues. We work on a wealth of projects. We drum up new business and cut ties with clients when necessary. We counsel others through problems and celebrate their joys and triumphs with them. Relationally, the persons we spend time with go through their own moods, their own battles, their own uncertainties and surprises and disappointments, and we have to figure out ways to adapt, deal with and/or support those we love. Or how to walk away if the situation no longer becomes healthy for us.

It is through change that we grow and this is how we can harness the power of change. If we stayed in the same place, did the same things and tried to stay in the same emotional and mental state, we would never be challenged, develop new skill sets or tastes or stretch ourselves to evolve as human beings or as souls. (And the effort it would take to try not to change would be exhausting and super stressful since everything around us changes every second of the day and night.)

Instead, if we find ways to embrace change, to accept it as part of a natural process–just as birth and life and death are natural processes, we can more easily adapt to and ride the waves or uncertainty. Change can be seen as a positive part of the life and business adventure, the catalyst for us to stretch ourselves, learn new things and reach our full potentials and levels of success we may not have dreamed were even possible.Changing locations and traveling are the ways the TV host and her producer will reach their desires to go worldwide with the format of connecting people without opinions or promotions to show shared humanity. Each change can be a brick–not to wall us in with our fears–but on our pedestal of accomplishments. While the destination of our lives and our business may be unknown, change is a guarantee.

And on this day after Thanksgiving, I am grateful for each person I meet and how each time we interact with another person we both change a little and we get to grow.