12 ways to cope with change

Change is tough, and coping with it is more important than ever. Here are 12 ways I’ve learned to cope with change over the years.

As you read these, please remember that this list of ways to cope with change apply at a personal, family, group, organization and even corporate enterprise level.

  1. Seek out change – > embrace the change -> control the change -> be the change.

    Just when you feel comfortable and things seem to be humming along is the perfect time to seek change.  Seek the change – poke your head outside of your life or organization and look around.  Seek different perspectives.  When you find change, don’t see it as a threat or problem – like cracks in the hull.  Instead, try to see it as opportunities like finding diamonds in a mine.

  2. “Surf The Chaos”, don’t let it drown you. Enjoy it!

    When you feel overwhelmed with tasks, details, and problems, find a way to prioritize them. Use triage like they do in an emergency room, and solve them one at a time.  This is how you metaphorically climb on to the surf board.  The problems may seem like an ocean, but dealing with them one at a time and celebrating each success no matter how small is a way to rise above them.  Keep your eye on the destination, and remind yourself of the long term goal. Accept that not all the problems need to get resolved in order to reach your goal, necessarily.  Accept those things as something you can come back to later, and move on.  Surf’s up!

  3. Listen, Listen, Listen. Listen more than you talk.

    My grandmother used to say “There’s a reason God gave you two ears and only one mouth”. Join meetings and try not to talk. Be proud of yourself for saying less.  Celebrate moments you held your tongue and let someone else speak.  It is always satisfying when someone else articulates a concept that they learned from you in a meeting.  That obviously can’t happen if you keep talking over them, or correcting them mid sentence.   When it’s your turn, take breaks often, and ask your audience to respond or provide their insights to make sure you are being understood.  Above all, maintain eye contact with the person speaking, and keep your mouth closed until they are finished their idea.  Better still, wait a beat after they are done talking and then start with your response.

  4. Subject all your own ideas to considerable scrutiny.

    Facebook gives us a great way to do this. By simply posting “what’s on your mind” and keeping comments open, you’ll get feedback that you can use to see if your ideas are resonant with a friendly audience. Often they will help you understand if your “fly is down” and what you can do to change before you take the idea into the public sphere.

  5. Surround yourself with people who are positive – but will argue with you fearlessly.

    If no one ever challenges you – you’re in a bubble and need to wake up.  That said, if you find a certain person or audience is a source of nothing but criticism, you may need to keep that group at bay and only consult with them when you’ve had a chance to creatively explore your ideas in a positive environment.  Edward DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats  are widely used to vet ideas in many organizations. I always liked the fact that the “black hat” is the only “negative” one. This demonstrates that kind of thinking has a place, but should be used sparsely and not until the end.

  6. Intuition is great, but knowing how we came to the decision is more useful.
    Data forms intuition, both human and artificial

    When we access our intuition, we don’t know *why* we’re right, but we are highly confident we are. It is assumed that our experience is the reason – but we often have to act quickly, hoping our intuition is correct.

    Machine learning works similarly, in that we provide a computer with a large amount of data, say, many photos of people accompanied by specific facts for each photo I.E. demographics and current mood in the photo.  We show the computer a new photo and ask it something about the person in the photo, like how old they are, or what their current mood is.  Usually, the process is highly accurate, but we can’t really access the specific steps the computer took to deduce the information.  The process itself is a black box to us.

    In Deep Learning, Artificial Intuition and the quest for AGI, Carlos E. Perez discusses these concepts in more detail as similarities between human and artificial intuition are explored.

    Deconstructing intuition would make it easier to replicate and share with others

    The challenge is, sometimes it’s important to be able to prove to others beyond simply “intuition” why we’re correct. If we could, it would be much easier to evangelize the idea. We could then more easily sell the logic used to make the decision without the need for them to also have to trust our “gut”.    Therefore, if you can document the steps and understand why your intuition is telling you something – you’re going to be a much more powerful influence.  You’ll have a scale-able, repeatable solution that will spread much more effectively.

    Some ways to deconstruct intuition

    How do we deconstruct our intuition?  Nothing, in my experience, helps me more than having to teach a class on something I originally solved using mostly intuition.  Writing out a lesson plan, and creating steps that other people will be able to follow is a great way to deconstruct intuition.   Writing a journal recalling past events is another way, and simply discussing what happened with others involved is additionally a way to do the detective work in deconstructing the “gut” decision and turning into something you can teach, share, and spread.

  7. Say “I Don’t Know” .

    Get to a point where you are VERY comfortable saying that. Practice it in a mirror. Relish being wrong or ignorant of something: it’s the moment you get to learn something.

  8. Baby steps.

    When you start to address change, take small, methodical steps, and be sure to congratulate yourself for every triumph no matter how small.

  9. Love who you are.

    Celebrate your achievements.  Keep your awards on the walls. Know your history and where you came from.  Make your working environment a place that makes you proud to be you.  Re-read your resume often, especially the references and testimonials.  Write and maintain case studies of your past work.

  10. Practice.

    Your experience puts the right words in your mouth at the right time, so curate it, grow it, and protect it.  I have often found myself in a challenging situation rising to the occasion much to my own surprise – words pouring out of my mouth that I almost didn’t know were there to access.  This comes from practicing and experience.  As when you’re driving, and skills become automatic, this can happen when you’ve practiced responding to situations many times, eventually it becomes second nature, but you have to practice a lot for that to occur – and mess up too!

  11. Be healthy.

    Change is hardest on you when your body is compromised and unable to help you cope.  Don’t get drunk. Don’t do drugs. Get up early. Go to bed early. Keep a clean house, office, and car. Dress well, and change it up a lot. Eat a diverse and healthy diet that changes up all the time. Be proud of yourself.

  12. Notice traditions and habits – and change them up.

    If you notice you’ve always done something a certain way, do it a different way. Take a different path. Again, seek out change, embrace the change, control the change, be the change.



I hope this article was helpful in some way.  Feel free to comment and if you like, you can read more about me here

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