If we choose to believe that times of greatest change hold greatest potential, then we are experiencing a climate of opportunity unlike we have seen in many decades. At this moment, we may be one idea away from achieving unimaginable success, regardless of what economic indicators tell us. Change, in this sense, is our greatest ally, challenging us to think differently, not only about what we do and how we do it, but what defines success for us.
I recall an issue of TIME magazine that came out at the height of the recent recession in the United States. The cover featured oversized letters declaring, “Hold on for Dear Life,” alongside a picture of hand holding onto a rope that is a strand away from breaking. The words occurred to me as supportive of a mindset that says, “Hurry up and rescue me, dear life.” Life does not come to us; rather, we must come to life, especially during times of change.
Of course, should we choose to view change as a threat, a different set of considerations come into play. The process of denial, despair, hope, and renewal that naturally accompanies change events may easily elongate to the point where the path to hope and renewal is barely perceptible. Ideas lose their vitality; options diminish; and, success seems miles away. We will think in patterns that are comfortable to us, familiar, so to quiet the fears that accompany change.
Will change conquer you, or will you conquer change? Are you holding onto the rope for dear life, or are you placing one hand over the other and climbing? To conquer change demands we have the wisdom to accept what we cannot change, and the courage to change what we cannot accept. It’s about the power to choose our behavior.
Walter Anderson, Editor of Parade Magazine for 20 years before becoming CEO, wrote a book called, “The Confidence Course,” which years ago made its rounds around the corporate sales landscape as a training tool. In the back of the book, Mr. Anderson succinctly captures his thoughts on what we can choose:
We can choose what we believe.
We can choose who we will become.
We can choose our dreams.
We can choose whether we will pursue those dreams.
We can choose our values.
We can choose what we learn.
We can choose how we learn.
We can choose what we wear, what we say, how we behave.
We can choose how much we allow others to influence us.
We can choose where we will be.
We can choose how we will invest our time
We can choose how we treat ourselves.
We can choose how we treat others.
We can choose how we respond when bad things happen.
Although it may appear an exhaustive list of what we can choose, I am tempted to add another:
In times of change, we can choose to hold on for dear life, or start climbing to dearest life.