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How to Flow with Hyper Change

Nov 22, 2007
Without bothering to ask for our consent, globalization and technological innovation has rapidly created a new world. In today's demanding work environment, there are few personal skills more valuable than being able to flow with the accelerating and unremitting changes which are driving our workplaces and defining our time.

As we move through the twenty-first century, it's important to develop better coping skills and to build much needed resilience to the unusual scale of today's changes. For example, over the next ten years we will likely undergo more change than has occurred in all of previous human history.

Through a process called homeostasis, every body-mind has an in-built tendency to resist change, no matter whether the change is good or bad. It's an amazingly complex system that wants to stay within narrow limits and return to that state whenever it is forced out of it. Our body-minds evolved over many thousands of millennia knowing that in order to survive, stability was needed.

This need for equilibrium is a natural mechanism that wants to keep things as they are. We experience this automatic resistance to change in ourselves and we see it in our organizations. The resistance is generally proportionate to the size and speed of the change, making the unusual scale of today's changes especially demanding on every body.

There is a pressing need for people to overcome their natural resistance to change and become more flexible and open towards it. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the former editor of The Harvard Business Review, described "flexible" as the most important essential skill for organizational survival in the new work world, along with becoming more "focused, fast and friendly". But just telling people to become more flexible (and focused, friendly, etc.) is like telling them to go fly.

To devise a strategy to enhance flexibility and focus you must first understand that resistance to change expresses itself in the body-mind as an arousal state commonly called stress. Over time, the wear and tear of too much stress plays a significant role in making us sick and impairing our performance. It keeps mentally and physically rigid and inflexible and especially resistant to change.

That's why one of the most important skills for our time is what Harvard Medical School has labeled the "relaxation response". The relaxation response is a measurable state of profound rest which, when regularly called upon, permits the body-mind to effectively unwind from the chronic strain that adaptation stress imposes. Within minutes, it achieves a state of rest that would normally be achieved after four or five hours of sleep. All of the complex and interrelated systems of the body respond by letting go of the excess stress and afford a tired and straining body-mind a much-needed chance to properly rest, recuperate, and repair.

It's a total response of the body-mind. The heart beat becomes slower, as does one's breathing rate. Blood pressure and blood sugar levels drop. Brain waves slow down. Even skin resistance changes. The entire body-mind system becomes quiet and has an opportunity to rebalance and replenish itself. Measurable self-healing occurs. Every system in the body-mind has an opportunity to regenerate and renew itself. It goes beyond the advertising hype and produces an actual experience worthy of the expression, "the pause that refreshes".

Decades of medical research has proven that everyone can be more in control of themselves by learning simple ways to properly unwind. By releasing stress on a regular basis, we have a natural safety valve that keeps it from building to harmful levels. Almost everybody who uses the relaxation response discovers that they are much better able to withstand the on-going and inevitable strains of modern life. They can absorb so much more without negative side effects. They are able to flow more easily into the new structures as they emerge, adapt to new ideas, and creatively respond to new challenges.

Those hoping to steer their organizations (or themselves) through the white water that is clearly ahead would be wise to provide their workers (and families) with the "how to" of body-mind self-regulation, the relaxation response. My bet is that the greatest success in the new wireless world will come to those organizations and individuals who have learned best how to effectively let go and flow better with change.
About the Author
Eli Bay is one of Canada's most respected stress management authorities. He is a master at delivering the stress-free relaxation state to virtually anyone and has been successfully unwinding individuals and audiences for decades. Visit: http://www.elibay.com.
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