Change Is Hard

February 26, 2016 by
Doug Kohl
Kohl Portrait

If change is so great, why is it so hard?  It’s hard because it’s partly about creation and partly about blowing up the past.  Change challenges our present state by allowing a new vision to rush in.  If we are open to change new possibilities flow in to our lives.  If we are not open to change, we resist and fight it with all of our beings, creating great stress and wasting energy.

None of my own words can match the following metaphor for change that comes from Danaan Perry in Warriors of the Heart… Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings.  I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars. Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment.  It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing, and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life.  I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers.  But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?  I see another trapeze bar swing towards me.  It’s empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it.  It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. Every time it happens to me, I hope that I won’t have to grab the new bar.  But in my knowing place I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moment in time, I must hurdle across space before I can grab onto the new bar.  Each time I am filled with terror.  It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurdles across the void of unknowing, I have always made it.  Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on the unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars.  But I do it anyway… No guarantees, no net, no insurance policies, but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives.  And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone; the future is not yet here.”  It’s called transition.  I have come to believe that is the only place that real change occurs.  I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched. Our fear comes as we face the prospect of replacing the familiar with the unknown.  At the crossroads of this moment, most of us hesitate and even retreat. To deal with change more effectively here are several tips:

• Develop a faith for daily living.  The realization that you are only a child of God and not God himself is liberating. • Be open to learning. The moment we stop trying to learn is when we become trapped in the past. • Practice recognizing what is important in the present.  Do not let what you can not do affect what you can do. • Separate what is important from what is imperative.  You may not be able to change the wind, but you can adjust the sails. • Shift your thinking.  Move from a focus on problems to a focus on solutions.  Move from thinking for the moment to thinking with the end in mind.

The opposite of trusting in the unexpected is trying to control the uncontrollable – clearly an impossible task.  – Angeles Arrien Consider how you can blossom when change inevitably happens.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Kohl

Doug brings more than four decades of experience working within the YMCA of the USA. He began his Y career in camping services at the Honolulu Y in 1971 and since then has worked at branches in Cleveland and Chicago. He was executive director of the Arthur Jordan Branch in Indianapolis from 1985 to 1991 and was CEO of the Akron Area Y. Under Doug’s leadership, the Akron Y raised more than $2.4 million in annual support and $40 million for capital improvements, and its annual operating budget has grown from $3.7 million to $19 million. He is currently the Chief Development Officer of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland.