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What is change
Change Series: The 4 Categories of Change and How They Affect Our Lives

“Worlds Change When We Change!” In the last post in my series on ChangeI gave several real-life examples showing how our worlds change when we change in them. I used a simple example of playing catch with someoneWhat happens if you just simply DON’T CATCH THE BALL? If you don’t catch, it forces what? CHANGE! 

Change is such a broad word and can mean so many things. At GoPivot, we know it’s important to consider the whole person, and the types of change they experience, to truly make a lasting impact. To help simplify this concept, I’ve outlined Four Categories of Change. 

Four Categories of Change

1. Life-Interrupted Change
What is a “Life-Interrupted Change?” Many of us have (or likely will) encountered life interruptions before we exit this earth. Perhaps an unexpected death, illness, loss of job, fire, injury, or another natural disaster. Life interruptions are thrust upon us with virtually little to no warning and are completely outside of our control. In those moments, we are forced to change!

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 storm that made landfall in Florida and Louisiana in August of 2005 causing catastrophic damage, particularly in New Orleans. Katrina has gone down as the fourth-most intense hurricane in recorded history. A record-breaking 1,836 people lost their lives and impacted areas sustained over $125 billion in damage. People’s homes, schools, and communities were destroyed, and families were thrown into economic devastation. It’s been 14 years since the hurricane and recovery is ongoing. Many families simply packed up and left, venturing out to new states, cities, and communities to live with relatives and friends hundreds or thousands of miles away. This massive hurricane interrupted millions of lives across our entire nation. People were thrown into a world of “Change” which they did not cause nor have the ability to control.

Some of these families moved to Georgia; more specifically, to Atlanta where I live. Recently, I spoke with a man whose family was impacted. To my surprise, he reflected that Hurricane Katrina turned out to be a blessing for his family. He said that his family has prospered since by being forced to leave. He went on to say that the opportunities that have been afforded to him following this life-altering event would never have happened without the hurricane. He was grateful for the experience despite feeling traumatized by the event. Wow, what a turn of events! From devastation and destruction to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

Of course, this was just one person’s perspective on the hurricane. Millions of others have experienced very different outcomes following Katrina. But, for this man and his family, the loss of, “life as we know it,” ultimately allowed for a more rewarding life to emerge.

2. Professional Change
A professional change is one that occurs within the work environment. As an example: a person has been working for a manufacturing company for years and has always worn composite (hard toe) boots. One day, the management team comes in with a truckload of boots and says, “From now on, we require that you wear steel-toe boots versus composite boots.” Or, maybe it’s a different type of eye protection where the company mandates that all employees wear eye protection with side shields.

Another example of a professional change might be when your IT staff changes your email or internal operating systems. One day, you come to work, and your email looks different and you must learn how to adjust to it.

Although in some cases the change is significant, it is often much easier to make because a person’s life has not been altered drastically. In each of these examples, the person affected still comes to work with the same job but encounters a variety of minor changes making the overall adjustment a little easier and quicker to digest.

3. Lifestyle Change
A lifestyle change is one that affects how individuals navigate their day-to-day lives. For example, a nurse at a hospital has been working the day shift. Her shift has always been from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. The hospital changes her shift hours and now she works from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. This change affects her lifestyle: she has to get up earlier and make alternate daycare arrangements. She has to scramble to meet this new shift requirement.

Or, the company that you work for has moved offices to the other side of town. Now, you have to leave an hour earlier and are getting home later. You are spending more money on gas and you’ve increased the wear-and-tear on your car. The new office has an open floor plan as opposed to the old office’s private work stations. Consequently, you no longer have the privacy that you are accustomed too.

These type of changes have a ripple effect and can cause a person to re-evaluate the job and, perhaps, lead to a move or a career change.

4. Transformational Change
A Transformational Change is a major shift in the way an individual lives one’s life. It’s the type of change that makes you stop and say, “Wow! That cannot be the same person. What happened?” It’s the kind of change that catches you off guard.

The old colleague who used to be so negative and abrupt is now joyful, nice, and patient. It could be a person who you don’t even recognize in the grocery store because their physical appearance has changed – their hair color, weight, clothes, demeanor, everything is different. “Wow, you look fantastic! What have you done?” Or, it could be someone who previously struggled with addiction and is now in recovery – they are completely different than you expect, and you can grow to trust them due to this change.

We’ve all seen these types of changes and many of us have actually made such life-changing transformational changes. Many of us yearn to make such changes, but for some reason have failed to do so or have just given up after trying. Why can some people make such a change while others can’t? Now, that’s a HUGE question.

Catalysts for Change 

The first three types of Change all had something in common. What was it?  

In all three, there was an external ”catalyst” that ignited the changes people experienced. A catalyst is substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.  One of our employees at GoPivot is really into making bread and he keeps a “starter/leaven” alive in his house at all times. Without this catalyst, the bread cannot take shape. 

A  human catalyst  is a person who acts as a  catalyst  to facilitate a  human  chemical reaction or system process, without themselves being consumed in the reaction.  

In the first three scenarios, the catalysts were Hurricane Katrina, mandated change in personal protective equipment (PPE) and software, and changes in shift hours or office location. 

So, could it be true that for a transformational change to take place, a catalyst is needed? If so, how can a person create a catalyst? Well, if I give the answer to this now, chances are strong that you won’t tune into my next article on Change.  So, please check back in for my next post in my series on Change as I uncover the “catalysts” that live within each and every one of us!