Several nights ago, I attended the Adam Lambert Queen concert. 

What an incredible night! 

The show was a delight, and the guitar playing was simply amazing. 

But what about the rain? 

I was one of the thousands sitting in the open area of Suncorp Stadium, enjoying the show, during three (yes, three!) hours of rain.  It started within a matter of minutes after arriving at the Stadium, and we soon became saturated.  Regardless of ponchos and raincoats, the rain found skin pretty quickly.  Many people in the open area simply didn’t bother, happy to sit or stand in the rain without any sort of cover.  What struck me was how quickly people adapted to the change in their expectations.  The people around me said they had hoped for a clear night but seeing as this was not going to happen, they settled in for a happy and fun time.  Hair stuck flat to skulls, mascara running down cheeks, wet jeans, runners rapidly becoming soaked – and smiles and laughter all around! The rain poured for three hours. It was amazing to see the camaraderie amongst people who were unknown to one another but were all keen to enjoy the shared experience of a show that they had been waiting a year to see.  From what we could see, Adam and the band on the stage also got wet. Yet throughout the performance, they shared jokes with us of their experience of the rain from the stage.  At the end of the show, the drummer bowed wearing a snorkel. 

As I drove home after the show, I thought about all the times when I am onsite auditing and assessing organisations. I considered the times when changes had to made to schedules, plans and meetings quickly.  Most often, people adapt and work with the changes, although there are other times when frustration is apparent.  Sometimes, staff comment on their approaches to how they adapt to change when something has unexpectedly happened to alter schedules. 

Only recently, a support worker commented to me about how she responds and reacts to change. We talked about situations where we are motivated and inspired to change and those times when we drag our feet and reluctantly comply with what’s required of us.  We both noted that some of these situations had been emotionally charged or financially significant or were about work conditions.  Sometimes there were positive changes and sometimes not.

I thought about the ways people personally manage change, whether at work or in family life – or more recently for the Queen concert: whether the change is handled in a respectful and dignified way or a resigned manner with grumping every step of the way.  It’s all in our approach, how we view change as well as our level of accepting uncertainty. 

Consider the stages people can go through:

  1. Denial (surely this rain will stop?);
  2. Anger (I have waited all year for this, and now it is wet!);
  3. Exploring (hey, look around at all of the other people and the different ponchos.  I wonder which ones work best? Who are you and where are you from?); and
  4. Acceptance (Let’s get in and have fun!  Who cares what I look like? Now look at my selfie – isn’t this picture gross, with my hair plastered to my head?!)

It is also about being aware of how our behaviour and actions impact on other people around us.  Change can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean we always have the right to dump our feelings of frustration or resentment on other people all of the time.  Far better to be aware of our approaches to change and find times to address our concerns proactively, as much as we can.  I see people grappling with this in organisations where I am auditing and assessing their systems, and I live with this constant reminder front and centre for myself.  It is not always easy to be mindful of my approaches about change, but like those people I was sitting and standing near at the concert, I think it is also about how rapidly we can adjust to a situation that is not of our choosing. 

As Reinhold Niebuhr says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Wise words indeed!

Thinking ahead:

  • How do you adapt to changes that are out of your control? 
  • Are there times when you can do this graciously and other times when you just feel grumpy about the change?  How do you manage the difference?
  • How do you assist team members to adapt to changes, both the ones that they can work with and the ones that they may actively resist?