“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
– – legendary football coach and motivational speaker
Life served up a real whammy in our family a few weeks ago. You know, the kind where not just your ears are ringing after your get the news, but your brain is ringing too? Then the ringing stops, and life looks like it is flickering between black and white and color as the shock rolls over you a little every day. Then one morning a little while later, you wake up and realize the world is still on its axis and it’s time to get up and make the best of it.
My husband and I have experienced change like that many times in our 12 years together. New homes, flooded homes, job changes, job losses, family changes, health challenges, new babies. Over the years we’ve each grown in the way we respond to life’s upsets, but he’s always had an amazing perspective about change that challenges my tendency to fear it. Sure, he runs the normal emotional gambit of the change process just like anyone. But when it comes down to it, he is one of the most courageous and inspiring people I know because of his determination when life throws us a curve.
This time, I’ve found myself sort of mystified and intrigued by his skill in dealing with the the loss of his job. It’s actually been what’s helped me to respond more than react in all that’s happened recently. And because of that, I thought I’d share some of the things he does that make change more of an adventure than bad trip:
1. Don’t sweat it. By far, this is what I admire most in my husband. The world could be ending, and he will look at me with total sincerity and convince me that somehow, this is exactly where we’re meant to be. And, beyond that, that the solution will present itself in God’s inexplicably perfect timing. Some people say this. He actually lives it. And I’ve never, in all our big changes in life, been able to prove him wrong.
2. A change is a chance. My husband is an “ideator” (see Clifton Strengths Finder for more info on this and other strengths). This means when he faces a change, it ignites a drive in him to pour ideas on a page to deal with it. In fact, when a change is particularly challenging, he tries to make a list of 20 or more ideas. Don’t know about you, but I’m stuck after 10. Through him, I’ve seen that challenging ourselves to explore the opportunities that arise from a change is often the best way to thrive in the midst of it.
3. Hit the ground running. You’ve heard that luck favors the prepared. But what I’ve seen more than that in my husband is that luck favors the diligent. There are some things we can’t prepare for, or at least not very specifically. But we can most certainly get moving on what we CAN do as soon as we can do it! This guy doesn’t ever let moss grow under his feet, and has consequently seen amazing opportunities emerge in the most difficult changes we’ve faced.
4. Stay close to the people you love. This one has been tougher for him over the years since he’s an introvert. But he knows it gives him strength and so he intentionally sets aside his own tendencies and seeks support. He doesn’t try to be a beacon of solitary strength in an ordeal. He’s real, he’s honest, he goes through the normal emotions of change… and he does it with the people he trusts because big changes are easier to weather with support.
5. Live as if nothing’s changed. I’m not talking about pathological denial, here. I’m talking about the fact that no matter how big the change is we’re facing, the world is, in fact, still happening. We can continue to talk with people about their lives, laugh, let ourselves care about other things and not get consumed with the radical shifts that may be steamrolling our lives right now. It’s actually healthy to have this kind of balance. It gives the mind a rest so we can better cope with change, and gives perspective as we continue to invest in others’ lives.
What big changes are you facing right now? Who do you admire in your own life for the ways they handle difficulty?