Friday, May 26, 2017
There are many common quotes out there about change, like “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” These quips make a point, but they paint change in a negative light. I prefer the quote attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus:
This phrase reflects change as a constant, without suggesting that it is negative. A river continues to flow, moment to moment. From afar, it may appear to stay the same. But slight changes are taking place constantly, reshaping the river a little at a time. It might look the same each day, but if you were to leave and come back after a year or two, you will notice some significant differences.
Change is not bad, but it can definitely be difficult, especially when a large change happens in a short time period. Daniel Goleman, known for his work on Emotional Intelligence, suggests that we can actually change how we respond to change (see article here). We can learn to adapt by practicing mindfulness and developing our Emotional Intelligence.
The practice of mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or the future. When we practice meditation or mindful breathing, we can ease our fears and concerns about what the change will bring, and return our thoughts to the present moment. If we recognize that change is happening all the time, all around us, then we are not so thrown off by it.
Goleman explains that adaptability is one of the competencies of emotional and social intelligence. This skill allows you to “quickly adjust to new situations and handle multiple demands.” When you are adaptable, you are more comfortable with uncertainty. Emotional and social intelligence can help us better understand ourselves and others, so that we can more smoothly process change and help guide others through it.
One great tip that Goleman offers is to frequently seek out new situations and experiences. When you step outside your comfort zone, you expose yourself to uncertainty and learning. When you do this often, you become more adaptable to change.
When reading Heraclitus’ words, it is easy to focus on the river – the external thing that is changing around us. But the second part of the quote is very important: “he is not the same man.” We so often focus on the change itself that is happening to us or around us, but we often forget that we are changing too. We are learning every day and having meaningful life experiences that shape our perspectives. When we seek out professional development on topics like Emotional Intelligence, we can continue to grow and shape ourselves. We can increase our adaptability and better prepare ourselves for the many changes we will encounter.
Related CLE classes to help you grow and navigate change:
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
CLE facilitators, Jess Dollar and Rachel Parsley, led a tour of Grounds as part of Grounds for Success Orientation on March 7, 2017. Welcome, new colleagues!
Friday, February 17, 2017
Our CLE team recently had our annual retreat, and it included a fun trivia game to get to know each other better. One category was ‘When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?’ The answers got us talking and laughing! Our childhood dreams included professional violinist, ice cream maker, talk show host, travel writer, news anchor… and even a horse! We had all these different ideas when we were young, and now here we all are working in the Center for Leadership Excellence. How did that happen?
Of course, along the way to our current careers, each of us held many other jobs too. Some of them were directly connected to our college majors or career goals, but others came up along the way and just sort of happened. For me, I went from my first teenage job as babysitter to camp counselor, resident advisor, elementary teacher, ropes course teambuilding facilitator, academic advisor, college instructor… and now I am a Learning & Development Specialist at UVA. This windy path is in contrast to my grandparents’ experiences, who had lifetime careers in one place. You know, the generation who asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
For a little while, I was concerned about my circuitous career path. Will I look like a job-hopper? What do these things have to do with each other? Will I ever find my ‘dream job’? And then I saw an amazing Ted Talk by a young woman named Emilie Wapnick. She spoke about people just like me who had traveled many paths and explored several career options. And instead of calling them lost souls or job-hoppers, Emilie used the term ‘multipotentialites.’ Suddenly it clicked! I’m a multipotentialite!
Once I adopted that title for myself, I felt quite liberated. I have learned to embrace the fact that my circuitous career path is not a flaw, but an asset. It provides a well-rounded perspective on life, gives me a wealth of knowledge to draw from, and keeps me renewed and energized as I focus on new passions.
As I was thinking about this topic, I came across a great LinkedIn article by Michaela Alexis, who encourages us to celebrate career diversity. She wrote, “If I never let go of my first dream job, I'd still be a can of beans.” I love this! Michaela suggests moving beyond the idea that we define ourselves by our job titles. She encourages us to not get ‘stuck’ in a career, but rather that we can continue to grow and change throughout our lives.
So what does your path look like? Have you found the dream job and stuck with it all along, or have you explored many options along the way? In fact, you may even have had several dream jobs along the way! This is what I love about working at a university. There are so many different things happening here, and we have room to stay in one place but continue to grow. There are wonderful resources available, like tuition benefits for academic courses or – I’m biased here – you can try the great classes offered by the CLE!
UVA might not be able to help you become a can of beans or a horse, but it’s a great place to be if you’re a multipotentialite! What will you learn next?