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How adaptable are you to change?

Change is inevitable in life. It is prevalent in all aspects of our lives, personal and business.

Why do people reject and fight against change? Most people are so accustomed to their ways of doing things, in a comfort zone, and rebel against any change. A main reason is that there is a fear of the unknown and reluctance to step out into the future without knowing what to expect. Think about all the positive results of change that affect your everyday life, that make life easier. The list is endless when you consider all the modern inventions and those that have been around for a long time that we enjoy. Some that come to mind include microwaves, automatic washing machines, computers, disposable diapers and the list goes on and on. A person had to think about a better way of doing things to come up with the inventions that we all enjoy and probably take for granted. You have to talk with a person who has lived many years to hear about how difficult life was without electricity, power tools, pc’s, air conditioning, etc.

You can determine to manage change or you choose to be a victim of it. “Resting on your laurels” is a mistake some businesses make which carve out their future demise. Businesses are faced with internal and external forces that demand change to survive and thrive. Some of the reasons to face change and embrace it are:

• Competition

• New and changing regulation/deregulation

• Economic conditions

• Consumer demands

• Societal climate

Debbie Brown, owner of Precious Moments Learning Center in Wesson, said she wants to “Continue to learn and that there is always something new in the business. You must be structured and disciplined but also organized and open to new ideas.”

She stated, “Putting responsibility in others’ hands and listening to and trusting your employees is key to success. In order to accomplish this as a business owner you must have people you can trust to do it like you would.”

Anna Day Douchard, co-owner of Beyond the Rainbow in Brookhaven stated, “You need to focus on and understand the changing needs and desires of the customer. Having a vision of how things ought to play out in your business, getting team players on board and following through on how to provide customer satisfaction are all important. Having fun, ensuring a healthy interaction between customers and employees are crucial in addition to having the right products, merchandising, displays, advertising, etc. People like new. Keeping your business fresh and providing a ‘feel good’ atmosphere without a stuffy, stale environment is important. Mood is contagious and can give you a competitive advantage.”

We are all affected by changes in society. These broad shifts affect values and structures. You can learn to respond positively to change by taking care of yourself and meeting challenges by staying effective and productive. Keeping afloat in the midst of change often demands developing new skills not taught in school and not available in training in many workplaces today. Learning how to adapt and respond quickly and flexibly to new demands in our personal and business lives will serve you well. Change challenges how we view ourselves. We must let go of “how it was,” “that’s the way we have always done it” and other thoughts that keep us stagnant. The new horizon may seem scary at first but all change is not bad.

An anonymous quote I read is: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is MOST ADAPTABLE TO CHANGE.” You may or may not agree with the statement but it a decision you have to make as to whether you will be a victim of change or embrace it and look upon change as an opportunity. You may never become a change agent, but you can flourish and grow in the ever changing world we live in today.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice-president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.