Learning & Development, Talent

COVID-19 Has Forced Us to Change—And That’s a Good Thing

None of us has had a normal year. The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone by surprise and threw the entire world into upheaval. We’ve all had to adapt our work lives, our personal lives, and even our daily routines, like where we get our morning coffee.

COVID19
Source: Unsplash/ Edwin Hooper

Some people managed the challenges of the pandemic better than others, though. The good news is that we can use this epochal moment as an opportunity to learn to embrace change and come out better on the other side. In fact, you have the power to choose how you will respond to change. Here’s why you should choose action, not reaction.

How Do You Deal with Change?

How do you manage change? Some people fear change and hide from it. Others resist change and fight against it. But the people who embrace change and learn from it are those who will have the ability to grow through change and come out better on the other side.

If you commit yourself to managing change in a way that fosters growth and development, you can actually start to see opportunity in the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic. I argue, in fact, that COVID-19 has given you a magnificent opportunity to assess how you manage change and make the necessary adjustments in your outlook and actions so that you will be a better person on the other side of this crisis—and you will also be better able to navigate stormy weathers in the future.

Change happens to everyone but not generally on such a grand scale and very rarely all at once. Yet here we are together, experiencing one of the greatest changes in this generation’s history. It doesn’t take a scholar to recognize that because of COVID-19, things will never be the same. I get emotional when I think about it. It’s literally changed the world, how we approach things, how we live from day to day, and how we approach each other (or don’t). It’s like World War II or the Great Depression—every country is somehow affected by it.

Before COVID-19, the majority of us had our normal, day-to-day routines. Many of us unassumingly thought that because things had always gone a certain way, life would always stay relatively the same. You may have felt this way for years or even decades.

And why would we have felt any differently? We all have our own sense of normal, and that’s what keeps us sane. It’s like we subconsciously put ourselves in a glass house that obscures our view and keeps us from seeing the chaos around us.

In our little glass house, we sanely sipped our lattes and pleasantly perused our social media feeds, unaware that change was coming. Then, someone or something threw a rock through that glass house—like COVID-19—and the chaos poured in.

Under such overwhelming conditions, people react in very different ways. Some people fight change, but does that stop COVID-19 from changing their world anyway? Once you can accept that change is inevitable—even if the change is usually not of the epic proportions of a global pandemic—you can begin to use change as an opportunity to grow and move. Otherwise, you will remain stuck, without any ability to move forward.

You Have the Power to Choose

No one chose COVID-19, but it came anyway, and like all other unannounced and unwanted moments of change, it forced us to think and act differently, possibly for the rest of our lives.

It’s important to understand, though, that even though we might not have the luxury of choosing our circumstances, we still have a choice. We each get to choose for ourselves how we move through change, grow from it, and show up on the other side of it. No one can make that choice for us; it will always be ours to make on our own.

You have two options: You can act, or you can react to the circumstances that surround you. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, many people played the victim, sitting at home bemoaning life, blaming leaders of companies and countries, and numbing their minds with television, food, or alcohol. These numbing behaviors didn’t stop the world from spinning around them, though.

Other people chose to act. For some people, those actions were directed inward with thoughtful contemplation and meditative practices to improve their minds and promote positivity. For others, their actions were more outwardly focused: They exercised more, learned a language, read good books, made improvements on their homes, learned a hobby, and spent time connecting with family and friends. Some of us even wrote a book.

And we did all of these things with the same pandemic still spinning around us. The pandemic is still out there, but we know that we’ll come out better on the other side.

Change will happen to you, whether you want it or not. It’s inevitable. Remember that there are two paths you can take: You can resist change by holding onto the past, or you can embrace the change and look to the future. Only one of these options will allow us to grow and become better people. Which option will you choose?

This article has been adapted from Get Rooted! For more advice on how to embrace change, you can find Get Rooted! on Amazon.

Stacy Henry is the owner and founder of CenterBranch, a consulting and coaching firm dedicated to helping both companies and individuals perform to their highest potential. With services that include keynote speaking and workshop facilitation, women’s development, and leadership and executive coaching, CenterBranch enables people to be their best so they, and the companies they work for, may flourish.

Henry brings 25 years of experience to CenterBranch from a variety of global industries as an executive coach and HR business partner for C-suite leaders. In 2020, she worked directly with the chief financial officer, chief communications officer, and head of strategic development at Collins Aerospace when it merged with Raytheon Technologies. Before founding CenterBranch, she was the head HR partner for central functions at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies company.