Leaders: What Change Will You Need to Accept?

I can visualize when she shoved me into the deep end of the pool. My pulse raced, and as the water engulfed me, I thought my heart would stop. When I emerged, I gasped for air as my arms aimlessly attacked the water. I had some swimming skills, but in my opinion, not enough to survive. Sometimes we are suddenly plunged deep into something. We may experience mental and emotional overload. Perhaps we are afraid or believe we don’t have the skills, experiences or resources to survive. Have you ever found yourself flailing around after being plunged into uncertainty, wondering if or when you will come up for air?

From 2000 to 2018, small businesses created 9.6 million net new jobs, while large businesses created 5.2 million, the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy reported in September 2019. Small businesses throughout our country are now reeling from a pandemic. An almost incomprehensible number of workers have been laid off or furloughed, and an undetermined number of companies may never reopen again. Almost everyone has plunged into a change of magnitude proportion.  

In my last article, I shared that there are nine stages of change and listed the most significant characteristics of the first stage, “Stand Up.” In this article, I will introduce the second of the nine stages of change, “Accept,” in order to help you identify if you are on that stage and take action to create forward movement. It is just as important to help those who love someone who’s going through a monumental change gain insight into their loved one’s actions and become more understanding, aware, supportive and empowered.

Change-Related Decisions

Your acknowledgment of the change only means you have come to realize you can’t change it. Others who play a critical role in your change actively challenge and remind you that time-sensitive decisions and actions must be taken. Mechanically, you do what you must or figure out ways to avoid it. You feel like you are chained to a lead ball. Refusing to give up is a constant battle. Slowly, you begin to realize that you can’t go on feeling miserable all of the time. You start to recognize the unproductive impact of some of your emotions and realize you must gain some type of control. Although there has been a slight increase in your energy, you are physically and emotionally exhausted. You begin to think about the choices you must make. You choose to accept your change — not what it might mean — and start to voluntarily make some change-related decisions. You reconnect or disconnect from your higher source of power and strength.

Change Spectrum

While sometimes we are forced to change, other times, we choose to change. The change process can be likened to a spectrum. One definition of a spectrum is something “consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic.” In the change process, “Stand Up” and “Master” are on opposite ends of the continuum. We each move through the change spectrum differently and at a different pace. Visualize a train as it pulls into the station. Not everybody started or ended at the same place or stayed on for the entire journey.

Assess the Situation 

You can move forward with clarity when on the “Accept” stage of the change process by reflecting on the answers to the following questions: How can I minimize unproductive self-talk? What needs to happen for me to accept my change? What kind of support may be available from those I respect and trust? What would be a productive way to handle uncertainty and fear associated with my change?

Take Action

First, choose truth; your ability to successfully master your most devastating change depends on you! To the best of your ability, please be brutally honest with yourself. Next, commit to taking action every day. As Mary Shelley said, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” Many changes are hard, and the process takes time, commitment, conscious choice and, most importantly, action. Be kind to yourself. It’s not easy. If it were, everyone would have mastered the changes in their lives.

Finally, be courageous. There are few changes we face in life that are without choices. You may find yourself being forced to make a decision. Acknowledge that you have some influence over the process. This acknowledgment will help you recognize your role in the change as you go forward.

The next article will introduce the third stage of the Nine Aspects of Change, “Rise Above.”

Donna Johnson-Klonsky, MBA, PCC

DJ Consulting Services Inc.

East Fishkill, New York 12533


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