As I write this, many people up and down the U.S. East Coast are preparing for and waiting for the largest hurricane that has occurred in many years, Hurricane Florence. Florence is about twenty-four hours away from making landfall, and it is assumed that landfall will occur at Wilmington, NC. Many other areas will be also be affected. Mandatory evacuations are already in place in several NC and SC areas. Our primary home area, Raleigh, NC, is expected to have much rain and wind, and likely significant damage and power outages as a result of those. Our beach property is too close to the hurricane’s expected landfall for us to avoid significant damage there. So, we like many others are on edge, not knowing what the outcome of this weather disruption will be.
We have done what many others have done or are doing, preparing as best we can, and waiting. But my husband Mike’s and my waiting is in Athens, GA. We are not evacuating due to Hurricane Florence, there are other reasons we need to be in Georgia. But I must admit that I am glad to be leaving. I am more interested in being safe than staying behind to monitor our home. That may be because of my Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten experience last year around this time. Having been through that hurricane, I do not want to wait this one out. And while Hurricane Florence is soon to grace the Carolinas, St. Maarten, where we just left, (we were there to honor the first year of Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten,) is expecting Isaac, which is vacillating between a hurricane or a tropical storm. Amazing.
Hurricanes are an example of an unwelcome and unplanned change, one we would like to be able to avoid, but can’t, unless we live in an area that does not experience hurricanes. But hurricanes are not the only serious weather conditions. There are floods, tornados, drought, and wildfires that some states experience and these can also be devastating. Serious weather conditions are an example of change that we cannot control.
There are many other changes that we can experience that fall in this same category. Job loss, loss of business revenue, and loss of a major client are examples of professional changes that are often unwelcome and unwanted. Serious illness of a relative, personal debilitating or life-threatening illness or death of a loved one are examples of personal unwanted and unwelcome changes.
Whether the change we are experiencing is professional or personal, when things are outside of our control, especially when the change is negative, all of our individual reserves need to be mobilized. We can deal head-on with what is happening, and often come out on the other side a better person for the experience, or deny or avoid the obvious, and often lose the best parts of ourselves in the process. While what is happening may not be in our control, how we deal with it is.
The issue of managing unwanted change is simple, but it isn’t easy. There are many variables involved that make this so. Our age, financial resources, and support systems are only three of these. Our health is also a factor, and not just physical health, but also emotional and mental health. At different times in our lives, we are better equipped to handle unwanted change than at other times. But regardless of those variables or others that are often involved, there are three qualities that are necessary to manage change well: Confidence, Competence, and Commitment.
Confidence involves belief in our self and our ability to weather the storm, to come out on the other side, to do what it takes to not just survive, but to thrive. If we lack confidence, it is hard to stay the course. Of all of the necessary work needed when dealing with change, keeping our confidence up is one of the most important. Without confidence, we spend too much time obsessing over things we can’t control, blaming others or the gods, or wallowing around in it, whatever “it” is!
Competence can be professional or technical, but it also involves human relations skills. Without good “people” skills, all of the technical or professional skills only go so far. Also, good “people” skills without technical or professional competence are insufficient in a talent-based world.
Commitment must first of all be to self, to do what is required to manage the change successfully. I am reminded of the actor who was recently job shamed for working in a Trader Joe’s. He was doing what he could to remain gainfully employed. After his story went viral, he was offered a job on the OWN network. What a wonderful example of commitment, and a great ending to his (current) story. While a commitment to a career or job is important, jobs and careers ebb and flow over time. Commitment to self must remain constant. And do not think of this as selfish or self-centered, it is neither. We cannot give to others what we do not have.
I cannot fail to mention that Tuesday was the anniversary of 9/11. Seventeen years ago terrorists attacked and took down by plane the twin towers in NY, flew another plane into the Pentagon, and took another plane down in Pennsylvania, killing all on board. On that day almost three thousand people were murdered at the hands of terrorists, people who were going about their normal day. On that day, for them, their loved ones, and all of us, the world changed. We should never forget.
When this is posted, Hurricane Florence and possibly also Hurricane Isaac will be closer to making landfall. Keep your Confidence, Competence, and Commitment close by, and stay safe.