Adapting to Change with Resilience

Article by Jason Croston


Change can be scary. However, it’s always going to be a constant in our personal and business lives. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate constantly changing landscapes and circumstances, and even ways to learn from them. Adapting to change can be a great challenge, one that requires resilience, flexibility and patience.


Weathering the Storm of 2020

2020 sure has made us face some significant storms.  It seems like a distant memory at the start of the year when we were banding together as a nation to support the devastating bushfires.  At that time, it was only the very early stages of news being released about COVID-19.  Like many at that time, I compared it to other similar infections in the past, like bird flu or SARS, and assumed that it wouldn’t have such a significant impact.  Of course, that assumption was wrong.

From a global health and economic perspective, our current situation is likely to be one of the biggest storms we will ever face.


Change As a Constant

Upon reflection, it became clear to me that as we live our everyday lives, there will always be a storm of some kind that we need to weather.  Some days, it may be a silly little argument with someone you love.  Other days, you may lose a loved one, or even a marriage.  Maybe, you sustain a significant injury and can’t take part in your sport of choice, or a decision doesn’t go your way.  Or maybe, however less likely, you find yourself in the middle of a once in a generation global pandemic, with your business on its knees.


Can Adapting to Change be Rewarding?

Storms will always pass over us.  As they do, it’s up to us to choose what to make of it.  Do we accept and acknowledge what is happening around us? Will we survive?  What will life look like emerging from this?  And although it’s terrifying, we must think about what we can learn from what’s in front of us, and see what we can take with us moving forward.

In the early days of COVID-19, I must admit, I was in denial about the potential significance of what we were facing.  We relied upon snippets from the media and our memories of similar crises in the past. My passing conclusion was that it was just one of those storms that will be in the news for a while and then pass without too much to worry about. I wasn’t alone in thinking this way, but quickly came to the realization that I needed to accept the enormity of what was happening, and the rapid rate that the storm was coming upon us.

Once accepted, an action plan was put in place. This was based on consideration of various scenarios of damage which could arise.  Considering how quickly the storm was coming upon us, these actions had to be implemented very quickly. Cooperation and coordination of multiple people and resources were required, along with clear communication to everyone that needed to know of this change.

It was a difficult couple of weeks but looking back, it was one of my most rewarding experiences in recent times.  We had a massive storm approaching fast and we had a plan, but we needed to act fast to batten down the hatches. Honestly, I really loved the experience.

We got there and were able to weather the storm for ourselves.  Maybe not perfectly, but is it ever?  There has been so much change in a short period of time that has been forced upon us.  So many of the changes from the storm will stick beyond the storm and will become part of the way we do things as we continue on our path towards our vision and goals.


Resilience is Essential

There was little time to do so as the storm came upon us, but I recently completed a course on personal resilience from our friends at Mindshop and thought the topic of weathering a storm was summed up perfectly.

In order to adapt to change, you must be resilient. These following actions are suggested to increase your resilience.


1. Choose How to React to Events

Controlling your behaviours, thoughts and beliefs, as well as understanding how your beliefs and thoughts impact your behaviours. Often our initial automatic thoughts can be negative and irrational. Research shows that actively broadcasting negative emotions hinders our natural adaptation process. Instead of dwelling on emotions (which we cannot change), focus on the problem at hand and decide how to approach it practically.

2. Improve Problem-Solving Flexibility

Improving our problem-solving skills allows us to address any issue that arises. Once we improve our ability to solve our day to day problems it gives us the confidence to take better control of our life and manage our thoughts and feelings.

Transition involves 3 stages, an ending, a neutral zone, and a new beginning. Focusing on the process of this transitional journey, step by step, can really help you adapt to the changing environment. How to Transition Through Change: Navigate 3 Stages

3. Don’t Stress About Stress!

Learning to manage our strong feelings, including stress, can help you become more resilient. It’s your choice how you react to your emotions. Learning to control our behaviours and reactions helps reduce any regrets of impulsive or inappropriate behaviour.

4. To Adapt to Change, You Must Learn From Change

The storms will continue to roll in after we weather this massive once in a generation COVID-19 storm.  There is no disputing that.  In the future, something will happen in our business life or personal life that we will need to get through.  It might be a passing shower or a devastating hurricane, but it will come.

There could never be a better opportunity in our lifetime to really understand our own resilience in the face of adversity and deliberately reflect on how we have faced this storm.  What have we learned about our own resilience?  And, what will we do differently when the next storm comes? Perhaps, adapting to change will be easier the next time around.