Don’t Forget to Breathe!

Trying to live in today’s rapidly changing world reminds me of the first time I went snorkeling on vacation years ago. Both experiences can be stressful and downright scary. My mother always told me that if I put my head under water and tried to breathe, I would drown. Period. I never questioned her advice on this issue, as it made perfect sense to me. Years later a snorkeling instructor gave me the exact opposite advice. Put my head under water, stay calm…and breathe. Oh, and he also told me to have fun!

I was flooded with doubts. What if this is too hard? What if I can’t learn? What if my mother was right? After several attempts I gradually began to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the fish and coral reef below. I took a risk, learned a new skill and replaced my fear with a new level of confidence. No one could do it for me. I had to do it myself. Living in today’s world is like that. To replace fear and anxiety with confidence, you have to accept Change and move forward. No one can do it for you. You have to do it yourself.

In 35 years of keynoting conventions all across the US, I’ve heard the same thing over and over. Most people don’t like Change! It doesn’t matter if my audiences are in healthcare, government, education, business and industry or nonprofit organizations. They don’t like Change! But CHANGE is not the problem. It’s often our unwillingness to accept and integrate Change into our jobs and our lives.

Let’s face it. Most changes, even the positive ones, usually involve challenges, inconvenience and hard work. And negative changes may involve even more… like patience, understanding, sacrifice and generosity. So… when it comes to dealing with Change, you have two choices.

  1. You can resist, try to stop it, play it safe, close yourself off, complain, worry, spend your time reminiscing about “the good old days” and hope that the world finally comes to its senses and life gets back to the way it used to be. That’s one choice. OR…
  2. You can remain positive, explore your options, meet your challenges head-on, take action, broaden your knowledge base, rely on your strengths, develop new skills, and learn from every person you meet and every experience you have.

Depending on your attitude, handling Change in your life can add to your stress or reduce it. Letting go of fear, being open to new ideas, focusing on your strengths and learning new skills are all smart choices. Sure, they all involve inconvenience and hard work. But YOU get to choose. No one can do it for you. You have to do it yourself. And you can! Just take it one step at a time. Stay calm. Oh… and don’t forget to breathe!


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