Change What You Think About Change

by Jeff Justice, CSP

CHANGEStress is the general reaction of your body to something you perceive as a threat. It could be a menacing figure walking toward you on a deserted street.  Or a loud sound in your house in the middle of the night.  Or Harry from accounting. You could even be reacting to something internal that means nothing to someone else.  Think about construction workers who can stand on the edge of a skyscraper and love it — I’d be Jello!  Yet, talking to a roomful of people might cause them the same reaction, while that’s what I live for.  It is all based on your perception of the event either real or imagined.  In the darkness, a coiled piece of rope could look like a snake.  And if you believed it was a snake, your stress wouldn’t be any less.  Even boredom can bring on stress if we don’t have enough stimulation in our lives.

How about change?  When it comes slowly, most of us manage to adjust.  But stress hits us when it all happens at once.  We can lose our capacity to cope and adapt.  One of the things that has helped our species to survive for all of these years — besides credit cards — is our incredible ability to adapt.

I recommend the same course of action for fear of change as I do for fear of the coiled rope that might be a snake:  first, turn on the lights so you can see for sure what you’re dealing with!

It’s not knowing that causes much fearful stress.  By turning on the lights, I mean you must get accurate information.  Ask questions.  Find out.  Don’t waste your creative mind on all the possibilities of catastrophe unless there’s not another person anywhere who can do such a thankless job.  Instead, put your creative mind to work on ways that will ensure even greater success.

If you’re the one in charge of change, reframe it as “fix.”  It’s always possible to make something better, but people tend to think of change in terms of loss.  Help them to see the gain that’s on the way.  What will we fix?

Find out the truth.  Know what to expect.  Think of FEAR as an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.  When fear of change knocks on your door, turn on the lights — and open the door…whatever is still standing there will look so much smaller!

If you found these tips from Jeff Justice, CSP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at

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