How to cope when your work place changes (a Buddhist’s perspective)

Buddha is quoted as saying: ‘form is emptiness, emptiness is form’. Without trying to delve deeper into the complexity of Buddhist philosophy, essentially it is a commentary on the true nature of the reality that we live in today.

A manifestation of this reality in our modern worlds is the juggernaut of change. In fact, life is changing all the time. Every moment, every cell, every breath…each and every time,  a new beginning.

Change also happens in the work place. The workplace however is something for which change is often not welcome. We get stuck in our ways, our habits and processes, unable to see or recognise their fallacies or inefficiencies. Trying to be a facilitator of change and getting people to buy into it can indeed be challenging.

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The “change management committee”

Our work is also the command centre of our lives. It allows us to pay the mortgage, the school fees, the skiing holidays, and everything else in between. In fact, without work and the income it brings, life would cease to effectively function. We take this for granted at times, complaining so much how we yearn for different careers, yet it is also the bedrock of our daily existence.
What happens then if you receive an email telling you that your role has changed?  What happens if the very foundations on which you have been building your career have been blown away and reshaped forever? What happens if you start questioning whether  it will be your job next?

Change seems to be a common theme amongst the world’s major investment banks these days. Deutsche, Barclays and Credit Suisse have all changed their CEOs over the last 12 months as either scandal or poor shareholder returns have demanded a change at the helm. Barclays this week announced it was closing its African subsidiaries as it refocuses its business strategy. Other leading banks are also bound to follow suit.

The immediate response is clear: it’s time to clear the decks as the baby is thrown out with the bath water and in comes the new way of doing things. Sometimes, these changes can be quite drastic. Lines of business, management structures and group governance processes are so radically altered that the landscape is barely recognisable afterwards. What was seen as sensible and logical years before is now discredited and labelled as inefficient and bureaucratic. From an outsider`s perspective, it makes for interesting reading… from an insider´s perspective, it can be quite unsettling.

Today then I received one of those emails… the role I had worked so hard over the years to get was abolished in one flick of the hand in the name of management change. No ifs or buts about it. Gone.

There are two responses to this: the first is to be dismissive, critical and a reluctant warrior. The second choice is to embrace it. The choice then can seem quite confronting.

The former approach is a path well trodden by many – resistance to change is  quite common, especially in those who have been conditioned and institutionalised working for many years in the same role. Often unhappiness and discontent are the result as workers fail to buy into it. The end result in the long term can be disastrous – those who moan ‘get nowhere’, especially in a bank. However, those  who react with agility and open-mindedness are very well poised to succeed.

They say that where there are weaknesses, there are strengths;  where there are threats, there are opportunities. If we adopt a different mindset, the solution to the dilemma of change is actually right in front of you.

Think about ways in which you can contribute to your team in a different way, do you now have more time on your hands to get involved in other work, perhaps developing your network within the organisation? Think about whether the sea of change itself presents unique opportunities to propel your career into a direction you would have never imagined, or even perhaps take a leap faith and start a new career altogether?

The irony of all this is that without change we never progress in our careers or in life for that matter. Change then is a welcome opportunity to think things through and reassess.

Yesterday, I read a beautiful quote whilst skiing in the Pyrénées and took a photo of it (for some subconscious reason, I knew it would come of use).

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Fear is nothing more than a state of mind

What’s more, the new holy grail of all things holistic and the mecca of making positive change in one’s life, ‘Mind Body Green’, posted this article yesterday. Timely huh? Whilst this example is extreme in the job change spectrum, it’s also an example of the awakening many have as a result of a major life event, often relating to something happening to their job.

Buddha would say that within the world that we know today, ultimately nothing actually exists; nothing is ever constant. If we contemplate on this proposition for one moment, we are able to realise that the catalysts of change in our careers (and lives) are often just the very thing that can make and shape our own destiny. Thrive on it, and watch your own world transform too.
YB

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