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Embracing change

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." While this quote holds to be true, it neglects to mention one, clear inevitability - the certainty of change.

Change is all around us, and whether it is pleasant or unpleasant; gradual or immediate; minor or substantial, it must and does occur. The challenge we face is how we as individuals choose to react to a given change. Once someone has reached the point where they can accept change, it is time for them to adapt. Armed with the knowledge of these truths, each of us must make a conscious decision as to the role we play when change crosses our path. Will we be the facilitator, the advocate or the roadblock?

We have all heard and come to understand human beings are creatures of habit and it only makes sense that our natural adversary would be change. The instinctive "status quo" thinking needs to be reversed in order to embrace rather than resist change. One very important factor to be successful with change is an open mind. View change not as a threat to what you've always done, but as an opportunity to gain knowledge and improve. Be the change; facilitate a better way of accomplishing the mission. Rather than being content with the day-to-day grind, constantly look for more efficient ways to accomplish your job. Don't be afraid to take calculated risks to make improvements. When it comes to facilitating change, fear is not an option. One moment of doubt in the idea you put forth will poison the thoughts of others who will be affected by the change. If you want people to accept change, you need to commit to the idea, invest some time in planning, remain motivated and foster open communication. Those who don't lead the change have no other choice but to become a participant.

Many of us will find ourselves on the receiving end of an upcoming change. If we are not the individuals making the change, the urge to resist can be very strong, especially if the new way means we are no longer the expert in a given area. This challenge to our competence can be the driving force of our refusal to accept what is coming. Instead of allowing this threat to have a negative impact, use the threat as an opportunity. Broaden your expertise by openly accepting the change and advocating to others. This should be done by reserving judgment until fully educating yourself on what the change entails. The more you know about what is coming, the better you'll be able to see how you fit into the puzzle. Nothing is more integral to continued success than willingness to embrace change as an opportunity rather than reject it as a threat.

Regardless of the change taking place, there will be those who will resist until the end. These individuals not only refuse to accept change but attempt to impede progress. Roadblocks can be viewed in two ways: A means of negatively impacting positive advancement or a way of protecting against a bonafide threat. There is no fault with opposing change when the objection is warranted, has merit and is done with integrity. Being a roadblock for the sake of being a naysayer may be just as counterproductive as blindly going along with a change without educating oneself. Before you decide to become this person, ask the hard questions to increase your overall understanding. By engaging and being a part, your inhibitions may be lowered and you may find that what you previously perceived as a menace has actually become the solution to a problem that you never even knew existed.

Change is not something that may happen, it is inevitable. The significance and impact it has may vary from situation to situation, but the choices we make will still be the same. We can be the front runners, constantly searching for ways to constantly improve current situations and the way we do our jobs. Front runners are the individuals who are not satisfied with the "status quo" and have the vision to see how things could be and not how they currently are.

Do you have the courage to be this person? Everyone is not cut out to introduce and lead change, but we all will find ourselves in situations where our role as a supporter is just as important. We must remember that a quality supporter must have an open mind and be fully educated on the upcoming change. Once you are on board, encourage others to follow suit. Resist the urge to find reasons why something can't be done and expend your time and energy on finding ways something can be accomplished. Change is not always easy, but our chosen reaction to it will have an immense impact on the outcome.