If change is inevitable, why do we find it so hard

There are so many sayings about change. How it’s inevitable. That change is the only constant in life. If we don’t change, we don’t grow. Etc etc etc.

And yet. Change it hard. Super hard. Knowing that it’s happening all the time doesn’t really help when you’re in it, and it feels unpleasant or difficult or annoying or any of the other emotions that it can bring up.

Change at work.. Easier? Harder?

Change at work is probably even more tricky because the people who are planning for it usually do it many months (or sometimes even years) in advance of the people who are affected being involved. By the time it’s reaching those that are affected, the planners and those in charge have well and truly moved through the phases of change and can find it frustrating that there’s not more “buy in” or enthusiasm for the new plan.

It’s also tricky because it requires empathy for those that might be affected in ways that those planning won’t even have considered. And for the resistance that comes from those that may indeed be a PITA but are more likely to be change fatigued, or indeed have genuine cause for concern around the change and its impact.

Phases of Change – William Bridges

So I love this piece by NOBL using William Bridges’ work on change:

In particular, the acknowledgement of what is being lost by the change  – the ending. A part that is often glossed over in our endeavours to get people excited about what’s coming next.  I also love the bit about acknowledging what is still unknown.

NOBL have this to say

“To help you navigate these conversations with your team, we’ve created a simple worksheet inspired by Bridges’ “4 P’s”: purpose, picture, plan, and part to play.

  • Pick a person. First, identify your stakeholders: who will be impacted, positively or negatively, by this change? Your messaging may need to change based on your audience.

  • The story you’ll tell. Give your audience context for why these changes are necessary: what forces are you responding to? How does the vision for the future connect to the company’s original purpose?

  • Their part to play. Let them know what you need from them. Remember one of the most common losses people experience when going through change is a loss of control—change happens to, not with, them—so invite them to shape their own future.

  • What you don’t know. Finally, what are you, the leader, still unsure about? We’ve added this to account for exactly those unknowns—it’s a good opportunity to model vulnerability in front of your team and build psychological safety.”


If you’ve got a change coming up – think about whether you have explicitly addressed the phases that Bridges’ proposes.

Have you thought about the 4Ps? What do they look like in your context?

What are you resistors telling you?




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