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Navigating Change

Change is all around us, some good, some bad. This prompts a lot of reflection and there is much to reflect upon. One reflection is around change itself. It occurs to me that in addition to going through change over the years, I have often been part of leadership teams that have had to navigate times of turbulence and change in various workplaces, with exam boards, and in churches.

How do you navigate periods of change in your life and how do you help others through it?

1.Keep Facing forward – the harder the time you are going through, the harder it is to do. It is easier to look at the past and the present, but hope requires that we look forward rather than keep going round in circles. When times are tough, it is very easy to ask why things are as they are, yet the braver question is ‘what now?’ When we go through storms it is important that we face forward, and as hard as it is, we keep going forward.

2.Be clear on what matters and stick to it – in challenging times, I find myself asking what matters and why this change is happening or needs to happen. Often when we don’t know what to do, we need to go back to our ‘why’, our core purpose or the key question/problem we are trying to solve. It is also a time to stick to your core values. It is about integrity. What are you prepared to do to reach the goal, what are you not prepared to do even if you lose money, friends or position?

3.Focus on the people – it is important to accept that change is hard and, for some people, is experienced as bereavement. In fact the Kubler-Ross change curve was initially designed to explain how people coped with bereavement or trauma. Whether we are thinking of schools, churches, community groups or families, they are not the houses, buildings or structures; they are the people within. If you lose the people, you lose everything. There is a famous African proverb that says ‘if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.’ It is important not to go too fast and lose the people around you but it is also important to keep going.

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once observed, the only thing that is permanent is change. As we go through change, it is important to keep going, travel well with integrity, and as far as possible take those around you with you.

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