Just do it – And don’t stress about change

You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 brought a number of sudden changes. Which, of course, made last November’s training workshop all the more timely. This time, however, it wasn’t our trainees who were being schooled, but the Krones training team itself.

Held as part of the company’s health-care management scheme, there was a three-hour workshop on “Dealing with Crises and Change”. In it, the entire training team was able to confer with the main speaker Dr Volker Busch, specialist in the fields of neurology, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

Further unexpected changes are certain to come along in the future, which is why I’d now like to share with you some of the information and insights from the workshop and outline its content for you.

“People love progress, but not change…”

Let’s face it, change generally gets a pretty poor press. We like the idea of losing weight … but give up fish and chips or chocolates?! Get up from the comfort of the couch and do some exercise?! Most of the time, we don’t have any problem with the goal itself, just with how we get there. Unfortunately, if there is no willingness to change, we won’t make any progress or see any improvement.

When we set out on a journey to a worthwhile destination, there are often two obstacles in our way: Our habits and our fears.

Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher and well-known original thinker, stated that habit “will make life most agreeable” – it saves us energy and feels safe, which is why we are often reluctant to leave our comfort zone. Because having to leave familiar terrain means above all stress and uncertainty. Especially when we have to deal with unexpected crises. They not only force us to leave our comfort zone, but also spread fear and alarm. So what is the best way to deal with such situations?

It is change that allows us to adapt

The more often we change our daily routine, the more we break with our habits, even if they entail a departure from our usual efficiency now and then. Slogging away at the same task for too long makes us static, makes us stagnate and thus leads to dissatisfaction sooner or later.

Only yesterday I once again felt a pang of guilt – because physical exercise in the form of getting into tight-fitting sports gear and collapsing dead onto the couch afterwards was all that I could cope with.

But less about my mini-crisis and more about the one that hit us last year and is still continuing: Many of us have come to realise that crises are inevitable turning points in life that we somehow even need to embrace in order to prevent us from falling into the trap of complacency. Maybe the corona crisis is taking things a bit far, but sometimes we need a little push to get us up off the couch. Dr Busch gave us another important piece of advice here: We should always bear in mind that crisis management is not a quick fix to be applied whenever it feels handy. Crisis means change, and change – as we have discovered – is a development process that takes time. We just have to be brave enough to follow any new paths to the end, and not to break off prematurely. This is the only way to remain mentally flexible and to give ourselves the space we need for responding more effectively to crises.

Role model

But how did the workshop participants respond to this? I asked Franziska Bayerl (responsible for commercial trainees) and Michael Gregor (electrical engineering trainer) for their feedback.

Both were enthusiastic about Dr Busch. Both Franziska and Michael were immediately taken with his inspiring manner. And that was the first lesson, right there! Because motivation and passion are, of course, of great importance when dealing with trainees as well. “Only those who radiate positive energy will get it back and raise the willingness of the trainees to learn as a result,” reported Michael. The same is true about overcoming your fears and leaving your comfort zone. Trainers must lead by example. Michael, too, feels it important to exude courage and inspire people to be brave – “just push every button in Microsoft Teams and see what happens, nothing terrible can happen. It’s important to launch into things, even if they may not be perfect at the beginning. Because most of the time, the fear that holds us back is not justified.”

Leaving the beaten track

To avoid repeatedly lapsing into old habits, Franziska advises us to change our routines and replace them with new ones – to leave the beaten track and discover new ones. This is the only way for us to avoid falling into monotonous routines. In doing so we raise our awareness and sensitivity levels with regard to our current habits. A further “take-away” for Franziska from the workshop was that every now and then you have to step back and take an objective look at your everyday routines and adjust them if necessary. Here we can kill two birds with one stone. Because by taking a closer look, we not only discover new ways of doing things, but also learn how to cope more successfully with crises. After all, haven’t you ever felt that, quite often, things aren’t actually as bad as they first seem. “We always have to try to make the best of it!” says Franziska. “You shouldn’t let yourself be affected by others panicking around you, rather you should try to see the positive in every crisis situation – consider the best ways of solving the problems, don’t let them overwhelm you.“

Strength in togetherness

Because in the end, we don’t have to handle crises alone. Crises are what we make of them and are only as serious as we allow them to be. So, I hope that you, too, will seize the opportunities that present themselves even in crises, such as the chance to pull – and grow – together.