Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Smelling an Old Cheese

Image from
I arrived at the huddle room 15 minutes before the schedule.

I left four hours after with full of thoughts on how am I coping with the big change in my life.

Actually, I was asking myself what happened with the past 11 months since I was left alone and had to adapt to change. As what I learned from the book, Who Moved My Cheese?, had I noticed the small changes early on, I should have been able to help myself to adapt to that big change that came my way.

Lessons Learned
Last Friday, February 24, I attended a half-day, classroom training called Adapting to Change, one of those soft skills training offered by our company. Like with other trainings from the company that I already completed, we started with the house rules, introduced ourselves to the class, and shared our expectations or what we like to achieve from the training.

My expectation was the training would be about coping with change – in the workplace. I started 2012 with a change in employment status (from project-term hire starting June 2010 to a regular employee now) and a new project to work on. It is a change that I was not expecting, but I know I deserve since I have been working hard to achieve whatever I am having now from the company.

So, I thought the training was “perfect,” as while I know I can do this, I still feel sometimes that I am unskilled for the project I am in now. Not to mention that I will be having more client interaction than with my previous project and, almost two years since I joined the outsourcing industry, I am still getting the hang of it somehow.

However, Friday’s training was different. It did not meet my expectations. For me, the training was the Universe’s way of telling me, of nailing it hard to my head that it is time for me to adapt “fully” to the change.

I like to share with you sample lessons from the training, which I find very applicable to me now:

There are four phases of change:

  1. Change: In my case, it was about a life-changing event that I still avoid talking about in general or with those who keep prying about what happened.
  2. The Unknown. Would you believe that 11 months after, and I am still in this phase, the “unknown”? There are still days and nights that I find myself very disoriented. I keep asking myself, what went wrong? What did I do? What did I not do?  I am stuck here, in the “unknown.”
  3.  The Adjustment. I made – and still making efforts – to keep hold of myself. My colleagues, my friends, even strangers, have said, it is not worth it. But once a pang of sadness hits me, I revert to the unknown and everything I did to adjust were just nothing ….
  4. The New Norm. While the change is already a part of my “daily” goings-on, I still have not accepted it. I am still in the unknown. I keep asking the same questions over and over and over. I would pick myself up but stumble again because of my own doing. I have not learned my lesson – rather, I have not made that “lesson” my reality and to eventually get into this “new” norm in my life.

The Change Emergency Kit  
I am so unprepared for this change. I am naïve to think I can undo whatever that had happened already.

I know I have to take charge. However, I have barely applied this emergency kit called, “Test – Drive Change”:

T - Think about it. I reacted. They said it was normal. When I paused, I decided to step back. I tried to identify how the change was affecting me, eating me, ruining me. I keep on reflecting what would happen to me, to the promises made, now suddenly broken.

E – Examine feelings. The key action that was discussed for this part of the training was, “identify what you need to ‘let go’ to accept change.” I am still holding on to empty promises, to broken dreams. I asked myself way more than the prescribed “five times” why am I feeling this way. I keep looking back at “the way things used to be.” I gave the benefit of the doubt, but I think I gave too much of it already. I am stuck. As emphasized in the training, I have to change to survive. I am surviving somehow, but I eventually like to take charge.

S – Seek information. I sought information from the source but all I got was cold treatment. When I finally got a response, it was more of avoidance. Then the blame was on me. I tried to make the unknown “known” based on what I actually know. I held on to the information until I thought it was time to use it to my advantage. But it backfired. I thought I was impatient for wanting to find the answers right away. But as stressed in our training, I have to understand that all the answers might not be available now – or not at all and I have to accept uncertainty when I can’t get the answers. It has been very uncertain indeed.

T – Take Charge. After the training, it became more crucial to me to learn to take charge. That I have to view this change as an opportunity to continuously learn and grow. To seek support. To measure progress, make adjustments, and celebrate my achievements. Above all, I must “let go of the past.”

How Am I Coping
Excerpts from Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved my Cheese?, were shared with us as we concluded our training. From the excerpts alone I learned a lot. I must get that small yet truly helpful book.

The cheese is a metaphor for what we want to have in life – job, a relationship, money, etc. You name it, you want your own cheese. How I lost my cheese is something I am making sense still but among the lessons from the book that struck me the most are:

  1. The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold onto it. So true. Need I say more?
  2. Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old. I thought blue cheese smells yucky. But it tastes damn good. I have accepted my blue cheese as it is. But as this change came my way, maybe I did not have blue cheese at all. I had something that had become stale, just stale. Maybe it was already stale but I held on to it thinking it would turn into a blue cheese?
  3. Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come. This is where I failed. But I very much need to redeem myself. As stressed in the book, “when you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.” I have other cheeses to enjoy now, so I will focus on such. Searching for a cheese to replace the old cheese will have to wait.

That is how am I adapting to change. I have a long way to go. But I am getting there.

How about you? How are you adapting to change?

Oh, it is leap day today. I heard over the TV last night we could use this rare day to reflect on the changes that happened to us in the last four years. So, this is my reflection ….
Post a Comment