January 2012

Dear Friends,

We are into the new year now. Is this an original year for us and do we challenge ourselves in new ways? How do we deal with change when it stands at our door? How do you deal with change? This is a good question to ponder frequently, and not only at the beginning of a new cycle.

How do we interact with change though? Are we gentle with ourselves or do we criticize our intentions and actions?

There are always two aspects with change at least: our own transformations and the ones we observe in others. We may suddenly detect different attitudes in speech amongst our friends, relatives or colleagues; with others we may be confronted by physical changes, possibly even with matters of life and death. We know from experience that deep changes are inherent in our lives; yet we often lose touch with reality when things really do change. We know simple truths like that there are days and nights, heat and cold, peace and war. Life has also taught us that nothing is permanent and that everything moves as we do on this earth, with it. Time is our friend as well as our foe, depending on whether we flow with it or feel restrained by it.

Love is almost a necessity when it comes to adapting to change, resisting it, accepting or rejecting it. Call it self- love if you like. It can be love for the situation and/or the people involved. Our ability to like what is different is challenged. Why is that so? Do we have routines? Do we like them? New situations can make us insecure. We tend to judge quickly as we deal with our resistance to change. Truly, I believe that we love change, but we don’t like changing and therefore we resist! There is a problem with this as nobody can make a change for us! We have to do it ourselves either actively in a situation that we modify or passively when we must adapt to compulsory change. We can only do it well when we love the situation, whatever it is.

Our world has become a more dangerous place in the last few years. We are all witness to revolutions, wars and senseless fights, at least in the news on television and in the press. In our personal lives we try to cope with untimely deaths, unexpected diseases, break-ups, retirement and the like. We are just as aware of changes in our bodies due to age; we have children as grown-ups now, sick parents or relatives and friends moving on with their journeys. Somehow they don’t seem to be the same people we knew before. Before? When? Let us not forget that our appreciation of other peoples’ changes in life is most likely a misunderstanding of their situation of the moment.

Then there are the so called trivial changes. They tend to go on our nerves; they annoy us and leave us without sleep at times: maybe a shop is closed when we need (?) an item, the road is unexpectedly blocked, we have a burst tyre, we miss a transport by a few minutes, or we fail an exam and so on.
I am positive that tender loving care is the answer, the cure, the “make us feel better” thing. Let us try and love changes that come our way; it will prevent us from combating them. That is salutary, for sure!

The story for today is: Adapting to Change, by Captain Steven Attaway, a soldier (2010)

Along with death and taxes, one of the absolute guarantees in life is change. Sometimes change is so subtle we don’t even notice that it is happening. Other times it is so drastic that it hits us like a ton of bricks.

One of the most essential life skills a person can have is the ability to adapt to change. However, adapting to change is difficult for most people due to the fact that we are inherently creatures of habit; having to change our patterns and behaviours is frustrating and annoying and takes most of us outside of our comfort zone.

There are also other reasons people are resistant to change and they centre around one common theme: fear. We are afraid of the unknown, afraid of failure, afraid of commitment, afraid of disapproval and sometimes even afraid of success. I would like to focus on the fear of success.

You may ask yourself, “Why would I be afraid of success?”

Isn’t that what we all are striving for, to be successful? The simple answer would be yes. But if we peel the onion back a bit, we can see why people might be afraid of success. Success breeds greater responsibilities, and with increased responsibility comes increased workloads and greater expectations from our peers and supervisors.

You may be asking yourself the following questions. If I change, what other demands will be made of me? Can I sustain this success? The key is to look past these questions and ask the following questions. Can I afford not to change? What will happen if I don’t change?

Adapting to change is sometimes easy, and we can do it with little thought. Other times, it involves us being willing to step outside of our comfort zone, and this is usually very uncomfortable for most of us. But I say take that step. It may prove to be a great experience.

Adapting to change is what we as military members do every day, whether it is refragging missions in operations, quick turning an aircraft for maintenance, or dealing with an unexpected power outage for civil engineers. We do and must adapt, and I would offer that we do it better than anyone else.

As a student at Squadron Officer School, I had the honour of meeting retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and reporter Joseph Galloway and hearing them speak of their time together during the Battle of la Drang in November 1965. Most of you know it as the battle portrayed in the movie “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson.

It was during their talk that General Moore offered the following advice, and it fits many situations, adapting to change being one of them.

He said he asked himself two questions every day: 1. “What am I doing that I should not be doing?” and 2. “What should I be doing that I am not doing?”

I feel that if you can successfully answer these two questions, you will have no problem adapting to change. Not only will you be able to adapt to it, but you will embrace it and make it your own.

So my challenge to my fellow Airmen is to not be afraid to be successful. Look for the opportunity to not only adapt to change, but to affect change in both your personal and professional lives.

As a photo, I have chosen an environmental change in the life of an ice bear:


In love and light and change