Acknowledging Change, Psychological Resources & Heraclitus


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. – Heraclitus

We all have our own predisposition toward change. This likely colors our initial response toward disruption in both life or work. Although we might adapt to our surroundings with time — I’m unsure we emerge on the other side the same as we once were.

The changes we have been experiencing regarding work life of late, run far deeper than the notion of working remotely. The experience is likely a layered one, where we have not only faced a steep need for technological adoption, but a certain form of loss. Moving through a crisis with sustained resilience is not an easy task. Whether we are actively working (as an essential contributor or virtually) or isolating, that journey is bounded by the honesty, empathy and ingenuity that we bring. This includes acknowledging what has already changed — and what may change longer-term.

Like the world of work, we are not static. We are human beings. We change as we process what is laid before us. We bob and weave, we acknowledge and adjust — yet we also take a certain number of direct “hits”. None of us should expect to be the exactly same as we once were, or work as we once had, for that matter. It is the nature of these things. For better or worse, we evolve as the result of what we live through. We may not recognize the exact changes in the current moment, but we may sense their presence.

At some point, our work lives will resume in earnest. How closely our work will resemble what we once knew, is only speculation. How we will align with these changes — is another matter.

When we step into the river, we will likely be different.

Part B. I’ve come to believe that considering our psychological resources can help us prepare for change. Whether you work solo, within a team or run an organization — caring for the psychological resources which comprise our work life foundation, the core, is wise. That foundation may not directly affect the bottom line, yet it sits squarely on the path leading to that success.

I would like to briefly mention two supporting constructs that may have been affected recently; locus of control and self-efficacy. There are uncertainties operating currently, which can drain us. Changes in the status of these constructs can affect how we engage with our work and spark dark side narratives.

Locus of control explores our beliefs concerning the power we have over our lives and our work. Individuals who possess an internal locus, generally feel that through their own knowledge, skills and behavior they can impact shape their lives. Those with an external locus of control may feel at the mercy of things outside of themselves. Becoming aware of our own “locus”, can help us understand our own journey.

Self-efficacy refers to the feeling that our actions are impactful and can lead to desired outcomes. If we feel that no matter the effort we invest — the results do not come, self-efficacy suffers. This can lead to feelings of helplessness.

While you isolate, please keep these constructs in mind. Try to identify what you can control and what effort-to-outcome relationships have been disrupted. Then monitor how you are feeling.

Meanwhile, a brief guide.

Strategy: What to consider or discuss, going forward.

  • Acknowledge uncertainties.
  • Acknowledge what we’ve lost.
  • Acknowledge what has already changed.
  • Discuss how things may change.
  • Consider how we have changed personally.
  • Identify what we can control.
  • Lead with empathy, toward yourself and others.

My best to everyone.

Author’s note:  The Core File is now featured at LinkedIn.

Please note: All posts are solely owned by the author. Reprinting (other than re-blogging at another WordPress blog) is by permission only.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, who focuses on empowering work through the development of core stability. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her thoughts on work life have also appeared at the Harvard Business Review, Talent Zoo and The Huffington Post.

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