I like change. Really, I do. However, I’ve become change fatigued. I’m thinking that much more change and I may become change averse.
It’s not that I’m unwilling or that I’ve become set in my ways. I know I can still embrace change as it’s part of who I am: I have challenged and been challenged to change. However, right now I have been forced into change so much that I’m not quite sure I know what I am to do or how to slow things down in a way that allows me to “get good” at anything.
I know that as a result of change I have been given new opportunities, but I have also lost some of the things that once made me happy. That’s life but I just feel like the pace right now is so much faster. So much harder to manage. It is harder to stay on top of things or to know to what I should aspire.
I’ve written before about how change sometimes stick and sometimes it does not. For two years I have been in the midst of serious changes, both personally and professionally. I am a new father (which of course has me reflecting). Where I work has had numerous changes in the organizational chart as a result of people retiring, downsizing, addressing inefficiencies, etc. I have new professional responsibilities. I have new volunteer responsibilities in an organization that is going through massive changes as many of our board members are retiring after very long tenures. I have had to change my approach to professional development and have placed myself into educational opportunities that are different than what I have done before. I’ve even changed my diet a bit to try to address what happens when you approach those middle 40s.
Change is both awesome and awful all at once – a dualism I have always explained to others while being more likely to describe the awesome part over the awful part. It’s becoming a little more balanced nowadays.
I sometimes wonder: what is expected of me? What if I don’t subscribe to the new normal? What if I mess up and make a mistake? Not that these things weren’t considerations previously but when things are constant you at least know the standards of performance. I don’t know constant anymore. I know I still enjoy what I do, I love my family, and I plan to follow through on commitments. However, I am more afraid of personal and professional failure than ever before in my adult life. Am I just older?
There’s a concept called “gracious space” that I find interesting. It basically says that in this environment, your voice is welcomed and your thoughts and concepts matter. You can try out new approaches or ideas here and if they don’t work, we’ll forgive you and we’ll all move on. To some extent it is judgment “light” and allows people to put an idea out there and see how others respond. I buy into this concept but not all do because sometimes what you say publicly can influence how you are seen and appreciated organizationally. In a change environment this is a major risk.
Sometimes in change environments, gracious space does not happen. Sometimes in change environments you lose, fail, get fired, get reprimanded, and hurt yourself or others. There is nothing gracious about any of that. So, you monitor around you. You try to not let the fatigue do you in. You figure out your allies and test ideas with them. You assess situations and people and determine what is a safe place to try and what places are best to maintain status quo. You look for the gracious space and you consider scaling expectations, because there is nothing more frustrating in a change process than adjusting expectations.
So, it’s likely I’ll be OK through all of this: I often reflect more on how I show up in spaces than necessary. However, I wonder about colleagues who may be struggling or may not be aware of what competencies they need to better manage the change. I wonder what others need to do in order to persist and thrive in these environments. I wonder what plans they have to increase their competencies needed to excel at change and the confidence to implement change plans.
How are you managing change fatigue?
What have you done to enhance your ability to manage change?
Where do you find your gracious space and how can you create those opportunities should they not exist?