Portrait of a team of medical professionals

Let’s face it, if we are not changing, chances are we’re not alive. Resistance to change is normal and natural. You see, the minute your brain realizes you are moving out of your ‘comfort zone’…it automatically sets off the famous “fright/flight/freeze response”, to some extent. This “fright/flight/freeze response” is otherwise known as the “stress response”. If you perceive the change as desirable or something you want, then your brain instantly shuts down the stress-response and the release of the stress hormones. So it is that being involved in the planning process of a change event, and having a deep understanding of the need for the change provides you with huge leverage for overcoming your change-resistance.

Unfortunately, the more complex an organizational system is, the more difficult it is to involve all change-event participants and, modern healthcare organizations are some of the most complex organizational systems on the planet. Change planning processes can take as long as 12 months, or more … even years! And in Canadian healthcare, many change planning processes occur at a ministry level, … far removed from the front lines.

It is inevitable actually that you will at some point in your career find yourself faced with the necessity to make a change that you don’t agree with, for whatever the reason. … and the reasons are unlimited. One reason might be that it just doesn’t make sense to you. Another reason might be that you fear the change will put patient care at risk. Another reason might be that you fear the change will place even more responsibility on your shoulders. No matter what the reason is that you disagree with the change, it is legitimate, important, and normal.

Jack Canfield, co-author of the’ Soup for the Soul’ books, offers a simple “Success Principle”: E(event) + R(response) = O(outcome). I call this the ‘life equation’. When faced with unwanted change, the only thing that really matters is how you will respond to the change event (the E) – it’s the R in the equation that is so very, very important. How you choose to respond will affect how well you can perform your job. How you choose to respond will affect how easily you are able to create and maintain relationships at work. And how you choose to respond will affect your overall personal wellness – your physical health and your mind health.

Your aptitude for the skill of Positive Presence – your ability for a positive and energized mindset – determines the quality of your response. Your response, no matter what it is, must be such that you are able to maintain positive emotional energy. Your response must be such that you are able to maintain your strength, your health, your resilience and most importantly a positive healthy attitude. A positive “R”, a positive response, to the event, to the “E”, doesn’t mean you agree with the change, but it does mean that you will be a happier, healthier, more productive person.

As a leader today, particularly in healthcare, you must learn how to see beyond the chaos. First, by understanding that change today is continuous, fast, and disruptive. In other words, you must become accustomed to the disruptiveness of change in your workplace – to do that, you must create a mindset that will embrace continuous change and thrive in it. You must understand that ‘it is what it is’. Then, you must understanding the dissatisfaction or problem that’s driving the change. As a human one of our basic needs is to make sense of our environment. Finally, you embrace the change (“I can do this!”. “Let’s get’r done!”). Only then, will your change-resistance decrease enough to allow you to move on in a healthy manner. This process necessitates a deep self-awareness – know your values – who you are – what drives you. This process necessitates that you have an inner strength that will move you through the process with a positive and energized mindset (rather than a mindset of frustration and resentment)


Catherine is passionate about helping organizations build enlightened leadership cultures that thrive in today’s complex, ambiguous, fast-changing and chaotic global environment, CORPORATE HARMONY’s enlightened approach to leadership and organizational development is a programmatic methodology for creating mental, emotional and social strength within organizational culture. CORPORATE HARMONY recognizes that for any organization to be successful, their people need to be healthy, happy, optimistic, engaged and satisfied with their job – a tall order in today’s era of complexity, ambiguity, bureaucracy, and lightning-fast change. The CORPORATE HARMONY MODEL™ is an innovative online technology of tested proprietary content designed to introduce and develop the skill of Positive Presence™, a mental thought model that connects human energy to human behaviour and results in positive, energized and productive workers that together create a culture of collaboration and accountability. CORPORATE HARMONY’S flagship “POSITIVE PRESENCE PROGRAM” provides the necessary information, exercises and techniques for building strong and healthy minds, while at the same time, identifies the uniqueness and importance of workplace behaviour to drive stronger, more positive relationships, and an overall increase in employee and organizational wellness. “PROJECT HEALTHCARE HARMONY” is CORPORATE HARMONY’S online health technology helping health workers create a positive and energized mindset as influential leaders, resulting in better health, increased productivity, fewer errors and a greater focus on putting their patients first who will heal faster in a caring environment of positivity and harmony. catherine.osborne@corporateharmony.ca

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