By J Thomas Smith, Contributing Writer
One thing in life is certain–change. Just think back to how things were only five or ten years ago and you will realize in a very short time that so much is already quite different. Cell phones, satellite radio, cable TV, automated cars, WiFi and so much more.
In broadcasting, I witnessed the evolution from playing phonograph records, to 4-track tapes, to CDs, to mini-discs, and to computerized automation. Yet, along the way, many resisted and complained about the changes.
I’m sure there are some of you who know people who refused to adapt to the computer age. I still know some “old timers” who would want to use word processors or even typewriters if they were available, instead of computers. Well, when change comes we have several possible mindsets, some of which are more adaptive than others. Let’s examine them one at a time.
Those Who Fear Change
The first mindset is to refuse to adapt or change to any new circumstances, just like the person who would prefer to use a word processor. These are generally people who are afraid of change. I believe that the fear of being inadequate is also consistent with this mindset. When change requires new learning, as it often does, some people don’t think they will be able to master the new skills or adapt fast enough, so it is easier to simply renounce the changes than make any effort to adapt at all. The problem is that these are the people who are left in the dust, or to put it in corporate terms, they are “outplaced.”
The Slow Starter
The second mindset is the slow starter. These people usually start out either refusing to change or anxiously running around trying to figure out what to do about it. They do not like change any more than the next person and they persistently resist until one day, it dawns on them that the change may actually bring benefits. Once they see that there is a payoff for them, they fairly easily do the necessary things to adapt to the change.
A third mindset is what we see in the over anxious people around us. They are the ones who instinctively make mountains out of molehills and have a nervous energy about them whenever confronted with a different situation. They think of all of the things that could possibly go wrong and seem to just go around in circles. They don’t adapt to the change; they just worry themselves sick over it.
The Change Agent
The final one is the most rewarding mindset. These are the people who consistently look at the world and understand that change is a part of everything. These people welcome change. In fact, they are frequently the change agents that generate change. They realize that change is what makes things happen and keeps progress flowing.
“Who Moved My Cheese?” Revisited
Are you able to recognize your own mindset in one of the descriptions above? Several years ago, Spencer Johnson’s best-selling book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” was the rage. The book is an excellent description of the characters that represent the four possible mindsets in the change game.
Hem. The first character in the book was a little person named Hem. Hem feared change and believed it would make things worse. He avoided it in any way possible.
Scurry. The second character was a mouse named Scurry. Scurry ran around in circles, just attempting to accomplish something, anything. Sometimes he was right, sometimes wrong, but he was constantly moving.
Haw. The third character was a little person named Haw. Haw was slow to figure things out, but eventually he adapted to the change and realized that the change could bring something better.
Sniff. However, the real winner was the mouse, Sniff. Sniff delved into action early, sniffing out the terrain and choosing what to do next. He adapted the quickest.
Think about the character you would like to become. What would you have to give up to be that character? Are you ready to make a plan right now to implement the needed changes into your life? With vision, commitment and a good plan, it is possible.
When you identify any area in your life that requires some attention and you commit to making the necessary adjustments, it’s strange how life gets in the way sometimes and we revert back to our old, familiar ways. If you can remain focused, you can overcome this tendency and achieve the success you seek. If you cannot, perhaps a coach is the answer. A coach will support your progress and hold you accountable for the goals you set. Good luck as you make the changes that will make you a more happy and success-full person. I’ll see you at the top!
Dr. J Thomas Smith is host of “Sunday Morning Live” on KMJQ/Majic 102.1 (9-11 am CST). He is an attorney, author, keynote speaker, and mental health consultant. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @drjtsmith102 and at facebook.com/jthomas.smith.12.