By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. My industry has completely changed within the last few years, and I'm struggling trying to figure out how to navigate the new landscape. Most days, I just think how unfair it is that after working so hard I have to completely revamp my career. Is there a way for people to successfully adapt when their work world keeps turning upside down?
A. Yes, but to successfully adapt to a job turned upside down you will eventually have to give up ruminating about the way your job should be. The single best tool you can use to thrive during change is to stop asking questions such as Why me? or Why now? Instead try saying to yourself Why not me? and What if this is the way it is suppose to be?
There are scores of studies on people who are resilient and benefit from change. We now know that the sooner a human being can adapt to the way it is and not bemoan the way it should be, the better that person will function when the world turns upside down.
Amazingly, crisis experts even find that in severe circumstances like a plane crash, most survivors simply sit in their seats staring into space rather than dash for the exit rows. The crash survivors sit in their seats because they simply can't process that the plane is not in the air and that they need to get out before the plane catches fire.
In studying disasters like 9-11, experts were shocked to discover how many people just couldn't believe planes had crashed into the twin towers. People who refused to adapt to change when the towers were hit didn't survive.
In another notable historic example, experts have long puzzled over why so many people died in the Titanic disaster. The final analysis revealed that most of the lifeboats were launched half full because people simply couldn't process that the Titanic was truly sinking.
When your workplace changes rapidly, you too can end up being a casualty of your old reality crashing - or you can accept what will now be your new normal. No one can blame you for grieving your former reality, but if you refuse to adjust, your career will sink just like the Titanic.
Human beings like familiarity, routine and safety. Unfortunately, work and life can't continually provide the predictability we all prefer. When the pace of change gets rough, the rough get flexible. The longer we are stuck gazing back at our past, the longer we can't see the opportunities waiting for us in the present.
The last word(s)
Q. I work for a boss who is a rotten example of a leader. He's critical, controlling, and unappreciative. I'm being considered for promotion to management but don't want to repeat his mistakes. Is there any way to make sure I don't become like my boss?
A. Yes, our leaders can be either good examples or horrible warnings. Study your boss and do the opposite with your employees.
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 in the March 11, 2012 - March 24, 2012 Edition