By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I'm a baby boomer and am simply exhausted at the pace of change that keeps happening in my workplace. I've paid my dues, worked hard and even went back to get a graduate degree. When do I get to a point where I have the luxury to stop being forced to change?
A. Some people might tell you that you can stop changing when you're dead. Then again, people who talk to dead people will tell you even death doesn't provide a guarantee of avoiding change.
We human beings prefer predictability and the known to the unknown and unfamiliar. Among our earliest ancestors, those who explored the unknown probably died a lot more often than those of us who huddled safely around the tribal campfire. Then again, those who were willing to explore the unknown probably ran most of the early cave people empires.
If we believe "clever" people are rewarded by never having to learn anything new, then we allow ourselves to believe we are uniquely being tortured by change. If we realize the only constant in life is change, at least we are aware we have the entire species keeping us company in our discomfort.
For a while there was a buzz word among companies about being a "learning organization." The idea was that company cultures that rewarded making mistakes, trying new approaches, and boldly going where no company had gone before were more productive, profitable and effective. Funny thing is, few employees were buying that if they crawled out on a corporate limb their boss wouldn't saw off the branch.
People simply aren't wired to get up in the morning singing, "Oh, boy, I have to do everything different today!" As long as you are alive, kicking and showing up at your office, your job will challenge your creativity and adaptability by making you learn new things. You don't need to aspire to be a "learning organization," to be faced with this truth. You just have to show up in any corporate environment struggling to dog paddle against the ferocious current of change.
Since we are never going to like change, we could instead aspire to expect, tolerate and look for the opportunity change provides. I have heard that the definition of a pessimist is someone who hopes to get a pony for their birthday and when faced with a pile of manure, walks out furious. The definition of an optimist is someone who faced with the same circumstances says, "Wow, with all their manure in here there must be a pony somewhere in this room."
In a long career, we will all deal with our natural resistance, dislike and negative reaction to a pile of change. Those of us who enjoy our journeys through the world of work will also constantly look for the pony we can ride in the direction of our dreams, regardless of how many times we have to adapt.
The last word(s)
Q. What is with the younger generation expecting high pay, status and a short workweek? Is there a way to supervise these people who seem more like spoiled toddlers than employees?
A. Yes, give them two options: 1) Pay their dues, or 2) find that boss riding on a unicorn working for fairies under that mythical rainbow they are seeking.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact her at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed inthe October 23, 2011 - November 5, 2011 Edition.