Is The Pace Of Change Burning You Out?

Interview with Dr. Paige Williams

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Are you struggling to keep up with the pace of change?  Trust us; you’re not alone.  One of the most common concerns we hear from workplaces around the world is the fear that the pace of change is burning their people out. 

This is why we have been surprised to repeatedly find in our studies that workers who report higher levels of change in their workplaces don’t report significantly lower levels of performance or wellbeing.  In fact, other researchers have suggested that most of us are wired for resilience and built to adapt to the changes we encounter.

“The truth is that AntiFragility exists all around us,” explained Dr. Paige Williams, co-founder of The Leaders Lab and author of Becoming AntiFragile: Learning to Thrive Through Disruption, Challenge, and Change, when we interviewed her recently on the Making Positive Psychology Work Podcast.  “For example, forests not only recover from devastating fires, but propagate, rejuvenate, and grow back stronger than before.  Likewise, for most of us, the times we feel proudest of what we’ve done are those that have involved learning and growth as a result of some kind of struggle.”

Paige suggests we think of being either fragile or AntiFragile as on two opposite ends of a continuum: 

  • At the fragile end, we feel we can’t cope with what’s being asked of us in our current context.  This might be because we feel unsupported and overwhelmed by the level of the challenges, changes, or uncertainties around us.  
  • At the midpoint of the continuum, we may feel robust and that we’re able to withstand what’s going on; we’re able to show the resilience to bounce back from difficulties. 
  • As we move towards the AntiFragile end of the continuum, we’re able to grow, learn, and thrive through disruption, challenge, change, and uncertainty.  In this way, we’re able to come out of these experiences in some way “better” than before. 

So, how can we become more AntiFragile?

“Energy, attitude, and mindset are the three building blocks for becoming AntiFragile, as these are fundamental to how we perceive and show up in the world,” explained Paige.  “They are leverage points for amplifying and magnifying the impact that we can have in the world, and the outcomes we can achieve, and over time, become part of who we are – our identity.”

Paige recommends trying the following:

  • Harness your energies – We need physical, mental, and emotional energy to do the work required, to be effective, and to have an impact.  Try to not only look after your physical energy, but also consciously taking care of your emotional and mental energy (to help you focus, grapple with complexity, and make good decisions).  How do you ride the natural highs and lows of life?  Do you need to tackle self-sabotage or reconnect with jolts of joy that can help you keep going? 
  • Take on attitudes – These are like our inner “Judge Judy.”  They help us make evaluations and judgments about what’s going on around us, and whether to move toward or away from it.  Try to engage in the world around you in a way that is confident, constructive, and courageous.  Enhance the positive by understanding your strengths and the root causes of previous successes, so you can be confident in your own capacity to deal with what’s going on.  Be brave and step into the space to have those necessary and difficult conversations, but do it from a space of kindness and constructive learning so that you, and those you support, can move forward with learning, growth, and development in mind.
  • Adopt AntiFragile mindsets – These are the filters through which you see the world.  They are your beliefs about the way the world should work and how things should be.  Ask yourself how you can take responsibility through reflection on your own actions?  Adopt a “benefit mindset,” whereby you look for ways to use your talents and strengths for the greater good.  What’s your legacy?  What do you want to leave behind?  And how can you do this through a lens of contribution, of making a difference for the greater good, rather than an immediate return on investment?

Can you align your energy, attitude, and mindset to help you become more AntiFragile as you navigate the pace of change?

To discover more evidence-based practices for helping people to thrive at work, check out the Making Positive Psychology Work Podcast.

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