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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 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.


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