How do we strengthen our adaptive capacity and establish realistic plans and goals for strategic purposes that readily meet the needs of those in our sphere of influence?
My family recently moved and when I asked my oldest son how he felt about the decision he said, “I can move and adapt, but I am not ready yet to mourn my losses.”
Heifetz and Linsky inform us:
“People do not resist change, per se. People resist loss. You appear dangerous to people any time you question their values, beliefs, or habits for a lifetime. You place yourself on the line when you tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. Although you may see with clarity and passion a promising future of progress and gain, people will see the equal passion of the losses you are asking them to sustain.”
When people begin to realize loss is ahead, resistance or even resentment can emerge. I think one of the greatest challenges leaders face today is how to keep innovating while also attending to and caring for the disappointment and loss that is around us.
As you Grow through Failure and strengthen your own adaptive capacity and help others in your sphere of influence do the same, being equipped to help yourself and others mourn losses is important.
People resist change because they are more afraid of the losses they have to mourn than the change itself.
Below is a list of strategies to help yourself and others to mourn losses to move forward. They are adapted from the respected work of Dr. John Townsend.
- Connect in a Vulnerable Way: As much as possible, bring your losses to your relationships. The more you relegate grief and choose to be alone, the longer it will take to mourn losses.
- Value What is No More: Choose not to dismiss or devalue what you lost. List out what that person or place or thing meant to you. This is really hard because creating the list can hurt, but it helps us when we celebrate beauty.
- Be Sad & Say Goodbye: Give yourself permission to feel the sadness of losing someone or something. Saying goodbye in healthy ways is part of the healing process.
- Forgive: Choose to cancel debts. The more unforgivable the event, the more you need to forgive. Forgiveness is a process, but you get to choose the timing of taking the first step.
- Replace: While a person can never be replaced, the relational needs that were met can be replaced. Seeking new relationships is a part of the healing journey.
- Learn: Losses can teach us something about the future. Write down what you have learned that will help your life moving forward.
- Adapt: Loss is a reality. Try to resist arguing with reality, but instead choose to strengthen your adaptive capacity.
Is there some “change” in your life that you might be resisting because you are afraid of potential losses?
Are there losses in your life (personally or professionally) that you need to give yourself time to mourn?
What strategies do you think will be most helpful for you to use in that process?
How can you continue to innovate and lead while also empathetically caring and attending to losses around you?
Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002), 11-12.