The Head's Tales: Change Creates Opportunities

One of the most difficult challenges for any institution, as it strives for excellence, is the need to make decisions that focus on the well-being of the organization and at the same time balance the personal impact such change may have on an individual or a group – both within and outside of the organization. These types of decisions must be done thoughtfully and have to be approached with integrity, honesty, and compassion. When creating a forum to work through the change process, the best approach in shaping the conversation is realizing "change creates opportunities." It is interesting how this phrase can redirect a conversation from being reactionary to reflective, from judgment to understanding, and from problem-focused to solution-seeking. Fear of change is so often the result of imagined consequences and the uncertainty of what the future might look like, including the new role or contribution a person will be expected to provide. For some individuals who may not be part of this new reality, the challenge becomes finding a new sense of purpose and direction. In addition, how we respond to change is often affected by our own experiences and those turning points in our past when we have had to undergo significant changes in our own lives (e.g. moving cities, studying abroad away from our families, changes in family structure, changing schools or jobs…). Yet the ability to manage change is a life skill that needs to be explored, practiced, and embraced.

Sometimes individual beliefs combined with the collective mindset of a group can create a resistance to change – is this because of our fear of the unknown and our reluctance or perceived inability to adapt? Is this because this change is being driven by outside forces not within our control? Or, is this because what we want does not align with what others are doing or expecting thus creating a disconnect between our level of comfort and the new realities we are forced to accept if we don’t want to be left behind? As human beings, we never stop changing, but how we react to change determines whether we feel good or bad about it, and whether we see such change as an opportunity or a challenge.

Some of the barriers that people face when confronted with change are:

  • Managing their own anxiety, often caused by a sense of losing control
  • Adjusting one’s perspectives when confronted with new information
  • Dismissing alternative view-points or opinions without cross-referencing the facts
  • Not listening or giving credibility to someone else’s reality based on his/her context or experience when it is not congruent with your own reality.

At St. Margaret’s, we try to help our girls overcome these barriers by:

  • Recognizing everything we do has a beginning, middle, and end
  • Being more receptive to new ideas
  • Being less quick to judge
  • Being more flexible in our responses to new situations
  • Being more open to different perspectives

As our girls are confronted with a future that will definitely require them to be ready for change, we need to ensure that our girls are not only engaged in their learning now, but also empowered to shape how they learn in the future. This is the essence and the imperative of creating a growth mindset.

"Never stop exploring, challenging, hypothesizing, experimenting and learning. It is those people who are open-minded and curious who will love and best lead change."
Richard Gerver

"All people are born lucky, but as we develop, the ones who are seen to be so are the ones who are always on the lookout for an opportunity and who then have the courage to exploit it."
Unknown

Resources:

Immunity to Change. Robert Kegan. 2009

The Innovator’s Mindset. George Couros. 2015

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