Dealing with Change: Both Wanted & Unwanted

Will it kill you? Or will you thrive?

Once upon a time, I hired a fun-loving woman with great recommendations, strong experience, and impressive tenure. (True Story!)

Not long after she joined our team she began to struggle.   Things that she thought would be easy to learn were harder than normal, which chewed away at her confidence, which made it even harder to learn, which ate away even more confidence. Sometimes when we spoke privately, tears flowed.

At one point she shared that in her last role she was so confident that she would put on a pink feather boa. And when she wore it – everyone knew a special announcement was going to be made. Here she wanted to be her authentic self, but was afraid…

Each time we spoke, I would remind her:

  1. She was grieving. (She had just left a role that she knew backwards and forwards and upside down in a place where she felt understood, appreciated and loved and moved and started a new job.)
  2. She really was smart, capable, fun and wanted!
  3. She was focusing more on her mistakes and emotions than on what she knew she could bring and that was causing her to struggle harder.

Then I would pull out Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model and remind her that SHE WAS NORMAL!!!

  • …And then we’d talk about what I could do, what the team could do and what she could do to help her work through the change so that she would feel confident again.

A few months later she bounced into my office to let me know that her brother-in-law had just started a new job and she had shared her lessons and Blanchard’s chart with him!!! (Goosebumps!)


Sharing that experience with her caused me to do a deeper dive into the emotions and needs that each of us have as we experience any type of change in our lives.

I’ve looked backward at my own life, and recognized:

  • Distinct patterns of emotions when we relocated to any new city.
  • Times that were so challenging they led to confusion, tanked confidence, decreased productivity, and sapped joy.
  • Times that I handled change well and swam through it and times I sank.

Paid more attention to others and noticed their struggles much more quickly…

As I coached recent university graduates that hit the same hurdles in their first career jobs.   And then as I met with their hiring managers, to help them learn to support their new hires at a higher level…  I’ve had the honor of watching men in infamously macho industries recognize their own struggles with change and actually admit them to each other. (Chills!)

And I’ve become much more aware of how change is impacting me in the moment.

This weekend I spent time reviewing the articles I wrote as we prepared for our expat journey and during the first 6 months here and was reminded about how my own thoughts, fears, delays, unknowns and choices fueled my thoughts and emotions. If you are in the midst of any change – at work or personally this swirl of constant thoughts and feelings may be familiar:

  • Confusion
  • Grief

Interrupted by a conscious choice to turn this into a fun learning opportunity

  • Awe and Thankfulness
  • Confusion and Frustration
  • Doubt and Fear

Interrupted by conscious choice to admit my fear and adjust my thinking

  • Unproductive (I don’t do limbo well!)
  • Anticipation
  • Thankfulness

Tempted to be frustrated, but chose laughter instead

  • Thankfulness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Unsure
  • Pondering
  • Questioning

If they are familiar – then read on! I penned these words during that time and they apply to anyone in the midst of change, yes – even the ones you thought you wanted:

I am in a new place, filled with wonderful people and lots of new opportunities.

I know from past experience that it is wise to meet many people and have lots of experiences as quickly as possible.

I know that even though I’m busy I have not found my “groove” yet.

I know that the human in me wants to grab the reigns and be a part of something as quickly as possible.

I know that I need to stay in explorer mode for a little longer.

I don’t know yet how I will make a difference here. …Time will reveal where I should plug in, and I will make a difference!


Want more about navigating change for yourself or others?

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Image from The Valley of The Kings Egypt where life from the Nile meets the death of the desert!

President, Giana Consulting

Chery believes that:
• Anyone can be a leader.
• Everyone knows something that the rest of us don’t.
• We all need to leave our workplaces, communities, nation and world – better than we found them.

Those beliefs caused her to instigate change from every position she ever had and continually provided opportunities to lead system-wide change from the middle and the edge of organizations.

Her faith and my firm belief that leaders need to walk their talk were the reasons she agreed to move to a part of the world that she once feared. As an expat she embraced daily opportunities to meet and learn from people that represent the nations in our world.

Today Chery is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

She leverages true leadership stories and expat experiences to inform, inspire and emphasize life skills that cause her clients to be more energized and productive.

THANK YOU for commenting and sharing!

YOU ARE INVITED: To add your comments and to share your professional, personal and faith-based stories. Diverse opinions, compassion, and inspiration are welcome! (I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.)

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2 thoughts on “Dealing with Change: Both Wanted & Unwanted

  1. Change is so difficult for most of us but I love how you swapped out fear and anxiety for curiosity and exploration. Change is ultimately about human emotion and I have learned to identify my fears first and then begin a journey to find solutions.

    When I began to connect with leaders across the globe on line, I was skeptical and concerned about this new way to communicate. I took my time and built up a level of trust with people I had never come face to face with. By sharing stories and being open, I built meaningful relationships.

    That includes you, Chery! Fantastic piece on change!

    • Thank you Terri!

      Do you remember the first time you identifired your fears and walked into them?

      I love your story about Social Media opening communication across the globe and the doubts that come with something new.