Riding the Rapids of Change in Your Professional Life

by Jennifer Miller on September 8, 2014

in Personal Effectiveness

Whitewater rapidsThese past few months, I’ve been reading about how two of the largest trade associations in my field have been experiencing growing pains. Or perhaps, more aptly put, they’ve been experiencing “changing pains.” If you follow SHRM, then no doubt, you’ve read about the kerfuffle caused when SHRM announced the creation of their own credentialing program, creating a rift with the organization HR Certification Institute (HRCI), which currently certifies for the SPHR designation, among others. And, a few months ago, the venerable ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) changed its name to the Association for Talent Development. Both changes have been met with confusion, derision, excitement and outright hostility.

Which leaves me wondering: how are you coping the ever-changing kaleidoscope that is your professional life? Change is all around us. When you lead a professional trade organization, the shifts your organization make are very public, and in that sense, painful because they are on display.

But your own shifts, be they public or more private, are equally disorienting. Do you find it difficult to stay on top of the latest developments in your industry? Things move so darn fast, I would totally understand if you let a few of the latest and greatest technologies or developing theories slip on by. It’s easy to do—I’m tempted on a daily basis to “go with what I know.” Let’s face it, it’s just easier to do so.

But before you settle in to the comfort of doing something the old-school way, do this quick mental exercise:

Think of somebody you know who’s about a decade older than you, someone you admire because he or she is so “with it”. This is someone who teaches you about a new gizmo, or sends you information about an emerging trend in your field of work. What words would you use to describe this person?

Now, think of somebody else who is in the same age group as this person, but is, shall we say, stuck in a bit of a time warp. They’re very happy with their flip phone, thankyouverymuch and see no reason to change a perfectly “serviceable” computer system that is a decade out of date. What words would you use to describe this person?

Compare the two lists of descriptive words. To which list do you aspire?

Chances are, you’ll pick the list describing your friend who is constantly growing, evolving and resisting the urge to stagnate.


Because life is a series of ever-changing scenarios and opportunities, most of which test us to figure out how to do something differently so we can keep moving forward. I think of my times on a river float: most of the time, I enjoy the tranquility of a serene float down the river. But, once in a while, it’s good to shake things up and get a bit of rapids going (with a helmet and a skilled guide, of course!) so that I can test my capabilities.

What about you? Where in your professional life can you get a bit more “rapids” going?


Photo credit: By Costaricapro (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer Miller September 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm


Ha! Now that is indeed a funny aspiration – to never become “model” dinosaur 🙂

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