Change is a constant. Change can take the form of seasonal change due to our
environment, change can be moving to a new town, change can be getting married
or having a baby. Our government is changed through elections. In our workplace,
change occurs at a multitude of levels, from leadership, to workflow, and everything in between.
Change envelops us. Yet, it is often challenging for us, ourselves, to change.
Thus, the essential question is if change is frequent, then why, is it said and,
rightfully so, that change is hard? Because, frankly, we quickly grow accustomed to
how things are now and are slow, sometimes to our own detriment, anticipating
how things may be in the future. We cannot predict the future (for now), but we can
foresee development of currently existing processes and procedures.
In terms of the workplace, change can be particularly difficult. We all want to do a
good job and an essential piece of doing a good job is adhering to the protocols and
processes in place. When those protocols and processes are changed, our desire to
do good job clashes with desire to learn what has changed and adjust accordingly.
We cannot do a good job without knowing what to do.
When working as in-house counsel or in an quasi-legal capacity in-house, the
company is especially dependent on you knowing what to do, e.g. how to interpret
and then apply the applicable rules or regulations. However, thanks to rapid
advances in technology as well as a strong desire to do more with less, the practice
of law is in a current state of flux. Adaptation is no longer optional; it is required to
stay current and to be effective. Unfortunately, the law is often taught and
understood to be static that undergoes slow, gradual change. Indeed, this is true in
some respects. However, just because some parts of the law itself may be slow to
change, does not mean that the way we operationalize the practice of law needs to
be or should be that way. In fact, it cannot be.
So, again, we are back to the threshold question of why is change so hard? When
working, we take comfort in what is known. We take comfort in knowing that at the
end of the day we have processes, procedures, and our own knowledge to rely upon
and guide us as we navigate matters each day. This space is our comfort zone. Yet, it
is this very same comfort zone that makes change so hard. The fear of the unknown
can often overwhelm us and keep us where we feel comfortable. In order for us to
be more comfortable with change, we need to change our mindset.
That is not to say that we cannot still be comforted by what we know, by our own
experience and knowledge. However, changing our mindset does require being open
and welcoming to new ideas, even those we may not necessarily agree with in the
first instance or those we find antithetical to how we currently operate. Considering
new ideas does not equate to accepting them. It simply means acknowledging that
the way we currently work or think about something may not necessarily be the
optimal way to do so.
Our brains are not hardwired to operate one way. Over time, we can retrain them to
operate in different ways that may be more beneficial to us. It truly is a matter of
being open to this idea, being being willing to put in the effort to effect the change
desired, and understanding that the process of change requires being comfortable
with being (temporarily) uncomfortable.