By Brenda Robinson
Research for the last 8-10 years shows that Canadians are indeed adapting to the changing world we live in. We view the changing contexts of globalization, new technology, government cutbacks and increasing competitiveness as inevitable and sometimes even positive and constructive. We are doing our best to at least discuss the ways in which we must change in order to embrace the needs of the environment, natural progress, societal attitudes, and changing values. Many of us recognize that values such as job security, definition of family, financial stability, and individual roles are changing as rapidly as mechanization, technology and communication. However, for some, the rapid change and increasing complexity of the world are pushing the buttons of resistance. For some people, the increasing sense of insecurity, the need to take risks and the lack of definite answers to questions about the future are causing a “digging in”, a resistance to ongoing adaptation, a feeling of “enough is enough”.
Some sociological research says we maybe seeing a rising culture of resentment, frustration and hostility. Part of the “I” generation seems to be an attitude of looking out for oneself first and foremost. People are asking “where did good manners go”? We are seeing increasing incidents of road rage, mall rage, queue rage and bullying. One professor of ethics shared that students used to come to his class to learn the defining boundaries of ethical decision making. Now they come to class to challenge those same boundaries. People are continually putting their toes over the line drawn in the sand.
Some lawmakers look to the “law” as the last bastion of definition. You either obey the laws or break the laws. Then came words like “decriminalization”. Some people shouted “Foul”! They said that it is or it isn’t – there is no degree attached to the law. Others said “it’s about time”. And the debate continues.
Rules took on shades. For many years golf course rules called for collared golf shirts. Then came Tiger Woods and the Nike t-shirt. Some traditionalists in the golf world shook their heads in dismay. It seemed almost as dramatic as Annika Sorenstam played in the Colonial Golf Tournament. Some people shuddered at this obvious pushing at the line. “What is this world coming to?” some people asked repeatedly. It’s a challenging question.
How important is it in today’s world to maintain a flexible, adaptable attitude? How important is the adage review, reflect, respond?
Critical! Imperative! Absolutely necessary! Being adaptable in the present, prepares us for the future. It is not an era for being set in our ways, embracing the routine, protecting old territory and defending against change. It is an era of fluidity, not rigidity. It is an era of function instead of structure. People who say, “that’s not the way we’ve always done it” or “that’s not the way we do it here” or “that’s not the way I like it” are setting themselves up to be challenged. We may not always want to put our toes over the line, but we certainly need to stand up to the line and know when the line moves. One of the great challenges many people face today is how to become “change skilled”. How do we prevent that feeling of frustration and resentment that comes in an era of relentless change? Like any other skill we need to practice with small changes so that when the big one comes along it is not so traumatic. We learn to crawl before we walk and we walk before we run. Choose the changes to get through your early skill development.
Some people drive the same route to work everyday – it becomes a rote drive. Choose a different route – work out two or three new routes and actively choose one each day. If you always sit in the same chair at staff meetings – move! The same goes for your chair at the kitchen table or your chair for watching T.V. If you don’t want to change chairs, move the chair and the T.V. Change the logistics of your office – change your view from your office chair. Change the side of the bed you sleep on, or the order in which you get dressed. Change your hairstyle or go for a new look. Do small things first and make changes gradually. You may begin to realize that things aren’t as set as you thought they were. Review policies, written and unwritten. Do they need to be updated or renewed? Add some new ideas to family traditions. Play with your routines and add some humor to your everyday activities.
Doing these things does not necessarily mean you will learn to love change, but you will be more able to cope with it and manage your response. Besides, feelings of frustration, resentment and hostility leave us drained and de-energized. Get ready – change is ongoing. Will you accept the challenge of change or challenge the change with resistance?