Yesterday, I attended a virtual presentation by Shlomo Abas, an innovation and change expert originally from Israel, currently living in Colombia. He began the presentation with “Change has Changed.” Immediately, this catchy phrase hit me and stuck with me.
He preceded to share how the pace and velocity of change has radically shifted. Change today is occurring at an exponential rate. The phrase hit me because there are times when the articulation of the obvious, of the elephant in the room, can allow us to face the seeming unfaceable.
And with the outbreak of COVID-19, it seems no one can deny that we stand in the midst of change magnified. No one is immune to the disruption. Everything has been altered and interrupted: from our daily routine (kids are at home, news of loved ones becoming ill, etc.) to our upcoming travel plans, to our businesses, to our financial situation. We have entered a new reality.
As creatures of habit, this can be, among many other things, disorienting, bewildering, and frightening. Our own disorientation is coupled with the collective global grappling as humanity encounters something unknown. We become bombarded with texts, headlines, and social media posts emphasizing the widespread fear, and now we have a context for a state of mind and heart that may experience a sense of unsteadiness.
As we contend with our own personal uncertainty in tandem with the uncertainty of our nations and the globes, how and what do we do?
Being Centered During Change
The distinction of the ‘observer’ is fundamental and central to how we engage in strengthening our capacity as humans at Newfield. This means the very first practice is to notice, to observe, to become aware of what is happening. This attention to our awareness is an essential prerequisite to future action, possibilities, and discoveries.
And given the intensity of the current circumstances, my sense is that it becomes quite easy to become unsteady, to waver, and to ‘lose center.’ When we lose center, we often lose perspective and find ourselves fused with our spinning thoughts or collapsed into emotional states that don’t benefit us or our families and communities. This may also look like we can’t keep our attention on the task at hand, or it becomes challenging to actually listen and take in another’s speaking. We all lose center at times; it’s an integral part of life.
When we lose center, a great starting point is simply to notice, and then compassionately invite yourself back to center. Resetting and regaining center is a crucial skill to develop. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it’s that life will throw us off the horse’s saddle again and again. So, what’s your practice to get back on?
Often, we can reset with a simple practice. There are a multitude of practices to regain center, including contemplation practices, meditation, going for a walk, etc.
One of my favorite resetting practices is simply to inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8. This breathing pattern sends a calming signal to your nervous system and body. Do several rounds of this pattern in a way that is easy and comfortable for you. Ensure you are not straining or forcing the breath.
Once we have regained center, we can ask ourselves:
- How are we engaging with change?
- What are we learning from such unprecedented and unique times?
Supporting & Strengthening Our Capacity for Change
Over the 30 years that Newfield has been working with people, we have found many concepts, practices and qualities that support, strengthen, and build people’s capacity for change. Here are a few.
What qualities support our capacity to change?
We have already mentioned observing yourself, being aware of what state you are in, and resetting and regaining center. These are ongoing.
We can then layer in the deposition of flexibility. Flexibility means the capacity to “adapt to new, different, or changing requirements” (Webster’s online dictionary).
The opposite could be understood as rigid, uncompromising, or unyielding.
Imagine a tree blowing in the wind. In health, a tree has enough suppleness to move with the wind without snapping or breaking. So, the quality of being flexible requires some aspect of softness and suppleness in order to receive and respond to the stimulus.
This suppleness, this softness, in part comes from being in contact with our own inner resources and strength. That is, it takes depth to be able to be malleable and adaptable. When we are connected to our own inner spark and feel the solidity of that depth, we can see when and how shifting, adapting, and pivoting are necessary movements in life. And here in lies an essential capacity in differentiating what is non-negotiable, what is at the heart of what matters most. When we are clear on what matters most, we can recognize that the packaging, the structure, the format can be dramatically altered as long as the essence remains.
When we have a deeply rooted connection with the heart of what matters, then we begin to have the freedom to allow ourselves to speculate, to explore, to invent, to reinvent, and to improvise. We enter into the world of creative imagination and innovation. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
In 2010, Derek Sivers did a TEDx talk entitled “How to Start a Movement.” And in that presentation, he mentioned the risk of being a leader. That a leader must be willing to be seen, to stand out, and therefore, to be judged.
So, my question is: for the sake of what are you willing to take a chance?
I often say when I facilitate our coach training programs, are you willing to fall flat on your face for the sake of your client? This is the central question. Are you willing to try something new? To ask the hard question? To risk being a fool if you it might be beneficial? Are you willing to test it, to try?
I believe this is a central tenet of being a good coach. I believe it’s a central aspect of being a good human. Are you willing to not get it right, not be perfect, to be judged for the sake of another? Are you willing to be courageous? To act in the face of fear and uncertainty?
My sense is that right now it’s time for courage. To take the risk to see what it is that each of us can contribute to the greater whole.
What grain of wisdom do we each have, that if we were brave enough to share, if we contributed, it would make an impact for all?
What happens when we connect our inner strength with our flexibility, our creativity, and our courage for the sake of all?
“From caring comes courage”- Lao Tzu
If you’re ready to dive deep and connect with your inner strength and learn how to cope with change, then join our Foundation Course or Coaching for Personal & Professional Mastery program.
About the Author:
Veronica Olalla Love, M. Ac., NCC, PCC is the Global CEO for the Newfield Network. She is also an international facilitator for the Newfield Network Programs and is the lineage holder for the Newfield Network’s ontological coaching tradition. In her unique and passionate style, Love invites us to remember the depth of potential we have as evolutionary beings.
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