Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

4 Things to Remember in the Face of Change

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One of my least favorite things to do is start a new job.

There are new people to get to know. New procedures to follow. New places to find. New passwords to remember. New open enrollments to accidentally forget about. New bosses to report to.

The overwhelming newness almost makes it worth keeping the old job.

Like a new job, a better story will require change. Change demands something new.

There is no way to circumvent it. We have to break free of old habits and routines and wander into an unknown place.

Whatever story you choose, you will have to leave that which is familiar behind and take a new path. One that leads into the unknown. Into the uncertain.

And the thought of something new scares us.

We can despise the newness so much that we choose the old instead.

Different can be too hard.

photo by "an untrained eye" (Creative Commons)

I recently traveled to Kenya on a medical mission trip. I had the privilege of taking care of a group of people who do not have the same access to healthcare that we enjoy.

While the idea of medicine is essentially the same there, it is also very different, and it proved hard at times.

Injuries were very similar. Tools were somewhat different. Culture and expectations were completely different.

Showing up is important, but just showing up isn’t enough. We also have to adjust to this new, unfamiliar territory.

There are 4 tools that I took with me on the mission trip that are helpful anytime we try something new.

1. Resourcefulness. Since Kindergarden we have been told exactly what to do. Everything we need to do our jobs has been handed to us. The factory has taught us to be anything but resourceful. Resourcefulness means doing whatever it takes to solve the problem. Something new requires something different. Something different requires a new set of tools.

Don’t give up. If the tools don’t exist to do the job, be the person who develops them.

2. Adaptability. This isn’t Kansas anymore. All of our assumptions about the world may not apply in a new place. What worked before may not work now. Be open to different ideas. Be willing to keep trying something new, even when you have your doubts.

Don’t fight adjusting to the new conditions. With time, they will become the old ones.

3. Sense of Humor. Laughing is certainly better than crying. Instead of becoming frustrated or anger, find the humor in the situation. Whatever it is that is not working out quite like you expected will prove to be humorous. Eventually.

Learn to laugh at yourself. It makes any tough situation a little bit easier.

4. Humility. We resist change because of pride. It takes humility to accept the idea that we don’t know everything. It takes humility to ask for help. Pride guarantees that we will never improve. Humility opens the possibility that we can learn something new and get better at what we do.

The greatest failure isn’t the lack of success. It is the failure to learn from mistakes.

Change will always be intimidating, but we can make it easier on ourselves, which in turn will make it easier to choose your better story.

Do you struggle with change? Tell us what helps you in the comments.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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14 Replies

  1. I DO struggle with change. It is something I think we all face, it just depends how we handle it and whether or not we share the struggle with others. It’s amazing how many times we are our own worst enemy. I often want to change, but I am afraid to.  Many uncertainties with change. But the truth is, nothing is certain. (I just don’t like to admit that.)

  2. To me, change = growth.  It is so important to disrupt our rhythms and patterns that we naturally fall into.  The amount of growth that we can experience as a person by refining our routine is negligible when compared to the amount of growth experienced from adapting to a new environment.  I agree with what you and Jim said, we are often the ones limiting ourselves through pride/fear.

    I was contemplating one of your last lines – Change will always be intimidating… in turn will make it easier to choose your better story.
    Reflecting on stories that I love to read, it seems ubiquitous that the main character undergoes great change.  That is a powerful life lesson.

  3. Personal transformation is a part of every great story. I agree with you, Cole. Change = growth.

  4. You are right. We can be our worst enemies. I am thankful for people like you who encourage me. Thanks Jim.

  5. Glad I can encourage you Jeremy. It’s my pleasure.

  6. Dealing with change is the ONE thing with which I don’t really struggle. I’m a change addict. I’m always looking to change jobs, move states, meet new people. There are benefits, but there are some serious disadvantages, too. I’m always looking for a way out of the present, and it leaves me feeling discontented with my life if I have to stand still for more than a couple months. 

    All I want is to live a better story.

  7. What keeps you from living that story, Elizabeth?

  8. Wow. I have no idea. I need to think this over.

    Thanks, Jeremy.

  9. I would love to hear more. Send me an email.

  10. I think I’m weird because I like change. It exhilarates me. I enjoy the change of scenery, the meeting of new people, and so much more. 

  11. I bet there is some change you don’t like. ; )

  12.  Oh for sure Jeremy but for the most part I’m a change-a-holic.

  13. Sheryl

    This is excellent perspective Jeremy. I’ve been through much change the last 4 years and trust God is doing a new and needed thing in me to prepare me for what’s ahead. It certainly hasn’t been easy but necessary. Isaiah 43:18-19. Thanks!

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