The only person who likes change is a wet baby.

Mark Twain

If you follow the blog at all, have a conversation with me over coffee, or just hear me speak at an event, you will hear a lot about change. There are many elements of it that are covered here and in person, but the reality is, change is the foundation for much of what I work on with people. Individuals, groups, institutions, teams, churches, friends…all need to talk about change at some point. Change, as another famous quote says, is the only thing that does not change in life.

But people resist it every which way they can.

Scary. Hard. Painful. Unnecessary. Avoidable. Inconceivable. Indescribable. From out of nowhere. We weren’t ready… All words and sentiments I have heard from people as we look at what is happening to them.

Change and crisis walk hand in hand. If you read any developmental psychology, family systems theory, or organizational behaviour, you will have encountered the term ‘crisis’ numerous times. Crisis is simply the moment of needed or inevitable change in a person or system. When we hear the word crisis, it may even cause some to sweat a little, because the word itself invokes some form of alarm in the mind. In reality, when we consider all the crises we have walked through, there are plenty of positive moments of crisis in your lifetime. And there will be plenty more to come.

How you went through the change before you says a lot about your resiliency. How you adapt, how you adjust, how you make space for things to bend and break, no matter how well you planned ahead. In fact, planning ahead is a big part of how you walk through change. Most groups especially try to hold onto what they have currently in their hands as though it is static and concrete, and when change needs to happen it becomes a very rough road.

If you resolve to view the changes you encounter as positive, and learn to walk through them with an attitude of curiosity and excitement, you will be miles ahead in how you continue forward.

So what does that mean for you today?

Every change requires a decision to be made at some point. Acceptance of reality or to strive for what is no longer real. That sounds too simple, but consider the last big changes you went through. Even if you feel you chose something improperly, and are now working or living with what you have, you must accept what you have and work with it. No matter what the crisis, the change is present, and now you establish yourself in the reality.

In church circles we often talk about ‘new wineskins’, referring to Jesus’ words to his followers about the change he was bringing to them. The old religion, the ‘old wineskins’, could not hold the new wine. The wineskin would break due to the fermentation process of the new wine, in the literal sense. So the wine would age with the skin, fermenting and forming, the skin adapting to the wine, the wine growing and changing with time. An old bag was no longer soft and malleable so the fermenting wine would destroy the animal skin. In other words, not everyone is ready to take on the change needed for what is to come.

In transitional leadership I refer to new wineskins as part of the end process. You cannot change something and leave the structure to fit the old way.

One of the simplest frameworks for describing change came to us some time ago, known as ‘Lewin’s Model of Change’. It is so simple in fact, it is criticized for its simplicity! You can read a little more about it here: The Origins of Lewin’s Three-Step Model of Change – Bernard Burnes, 2020 (

It breaks down into 3 general stages of change:

  1. Unfreeze – Breaking out of the current norm.
  2. Move – Go into the new space or idea.
  3. Freeze – Accept this new normal or live within it.

Where do most people have trouble? You guessed it, right in the middle. Some refer to this as the ‘neutral’ zone, where you can still go back to the way it was and try to be comfortable. What many do not understand is that trying to go back to the ‘good ole days’ is still a change in response to the existing crisis, and it will never be the same. The story has already turned, change happened, but it may need a lot of work to grow into whatever happens next.

I love helping people move to the next freezing point 😁The greatest difficulty for me personally is watching someone unfreeze, come to a place where they know they need to move, and then convince themselves to turn back. Something is always lost, purpose often changes, the mission is no longer foundational, and vision becomes unclear.

This is both for individuals and groups. When it is time to change, you may already have embarked on the move. You just have not accepted the reality. The ‘unfreezing’ to start the move can be the hardest thing to do. When you realize the necessary change, it is time to act.

So why change? Because even if you choose not to, it is already happening. How will you choose to make change a natural part of your existence?

Can I help with your change process?

Click here to contact me for more help!

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