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Lincoln Composite Squadron
Civil Air Patrol


October 2004
More Professional Development Resources

Civil Air Patrol

Adapting to Change

Submitted by: Steve Hubbell & Bruce Marxsen, Professional Development Officers, Lincoln Composite Squadron

Platte River - Photo UNL IANRChange is all around us. We are living in a sea of change and there is nothing we can do to stop it. In order for us to adapt to change, we must first understand why change must occur in our lives.

  • Change is inevitable, as we see in various forms of evolution.

  • Change is necessary, as demonstrated in modernization.

  • Change is emotional, because it gives us an unknown.

  • Change is exciting as it presents us with challenges we need.

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. Change provides an opportunity to mold our future and make our dreams become reality." - Thomas Jefferson

Reactions to Change-


  • The unknown of future standards
  • Denied protection of habit
  • Removal from a comfort zone
  • Awkward feeling of new tasks or situations
  • Starting all over again


  • Change as a natural part of life
  • Change as the key to a fulfilled, satisfying life
  • Change as a challenge


  • Life would be boring without it
  • Providing mental stimulation and variety
  • Sense of moving forward and making progress

Basic Types of Change-

As we see from our management/leadership point of view, there are nine basic types of change over which we have little control, all or most occurring in every person's life:

  1. Our Health
  2. Our Individual Growth
  3. Personal Finances
  4. Careers
  5. Moving or Relocation
  6. Interpersonal Relationships
  7. Major Losses
  8. Tasking
  9. Standards of Performance

Truths About Change-

  • Change is seldom isolated. It is usually accompanied by other changes
  • We prepare for big changes, but are not prepared for the number and impact of associated smaller changes
  • It is more wise to act rather than to be acted upon
  • Resistance to change is natural
  • There is purpose and meaning in every change
  • Without change, the status quo becomes negative over time
  • Commitment to change releases energy and decreases stress
  • Change is accompanied by a feeling of loss
  • Loss triggers fear
  • Fear makes people resist change

Common Feelings of Loss- There are common feelings of loss from change:

  • Competence
  • Power
  • Belonging
  • Turf
  • Money
  • Leisure
  • Control
  • Security
  • Status

Stages of Change- A Natural Progression

Denial- Shock, state of disbelief, refusal to accept change

Active Resistance- Negative attitude, opposing implemented change

Emergence- Negativism and anger dissipate, possibilities do exist

Experimentation- A desire to move on, but no clear direction

Adaptation- Full acceptance of the change, a sense of balance

Today change happens more rapidly than ever before. Not all people are quick to embrace change. With every new initiative, some will put up real resistance, providing a barrage of reasons why there should or should not be change. Managers and leaders must be on the alert for resistance, cynicism, or foot-dragging, while still respecting the real concern the people have for the change. A good leader must be able to apply the best strategies for innovative change.

Analysis of Change- Questions to be asked:

  • What aspects of the change can I control?
  • Where can I have impact during the change?
  • How do I fit in?
  • What results do I want to avoid?
  • What outcome do I want to help create?
  • How do my personal goals fit within the change?
  • What has worked for me in the past with regard to change?

Helping Others Through Change-

Research has shown that people respond more positive to change if they feel they have some control over what is happening. The following are ways to help people overcome resistance:

  • Communicate- Be honest and direct, explaining the need and how it will affect them.

  • Reassure- Listen patiently to their fears and do your best to alleviate them. Validate their feelings with agreement or empathy.

  • Empower- People respond more positively to change if they feel they have some control over what is happening. The more they get involved, the more confidence they will have.

  • Be Patient- Change should not be implemented until everyone knows what to expect and has had a chance to express concerns.

  • There is no denying that change can stir up fears and emotions that lead to resistance. But, by recognizing these barriers a good manager can facilitate meaningful change.

How to Adapt to Change-

  1. If you have a loss, decide what you can do to fill the void.
  2. Develop a new mind set to adjust.
  3. Do not invest your time and energy unwisely.
  4. Let go of that which you have no control.
  5. Take care of you first.
  6. Look for support.
  7. Prevent negative results.
  8. Flow with the change.
  9. Adaptation and adjustment occur faster when people are not overwhelmed.
  10. Develop a sense of mastery over your life.

Tools for Adapting-

  • Flexibility
  • Perseverance
  • Education
  • Experiences
  • Sense of humor
  • Courage
  • Planning
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Control
  • Appreciation
  • Communication

Fearing the unknown is the major reason people resist change. The element of a surprise in a proposed change can be shocking, so it is not surprising that the first reaction to change is often resistance. Fortunately, keeping the people informed and involving them in the planning and/or implementation process can mostly alleviate this fear. Another barrier to change is the fear of obsolescence, where people feel that the change will make their skills and competencies obsolete. This fear can be negated by instituting training programs to help the people better understand the change and to develop new skills.

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USE OF THE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS: You may reproduce these resources for educational purposes but not for sales purposes. If you have questions about using any photographs or images, contact Soni Cochran. You're also welcome to link to this web site. Please credit: Lincoln Composite Squadron - Civil Air Patrol (

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