The Space Between Change

Mary-Lou Misrahy, President and CEO, Physicians Insurance

Change is often characterized as a bad thing. It’s not uncommon to hear statements that “people don’t like change.” And while there is value to be found in stability and consistency, we know the “change is bad” generalization isn’t necessarily true. Few would argue against the life-saving benefits that changes in medicine have brought, such as the contributions of pioneers who discovered new and better ways to treat diseases once thought incurable.

Rather, perhaps, it is the transitional space between changes that is the culprit of this criticism. It is this “in-between space” that can make personal change difficult. But it is almost paradoxical that we are so experienced with personal change (e.g., learning to ride a bicycle, learning to drive, going on a first date, leaving home, taking a first job, buying a home, or having children) and not equal experts at transition itself.

Most of us were not taught transitional skills in school, or given any formal education on how to navigate change, despite the countless shelves of self-help books on the topic. Interestingly, though, transitions between one stage and another are powerful teachers, and influence how we navigate the future.

Thinking back on times when I experienced changes and transitioned through them effectively, I see several common elements in motion:

  • I received information on what to expect during the change
  • I took time to reflect on and process the change, becoming self-aware regarding what would be easy or challenging
  • I framed my thinking around the idea that change was not inherently good or bad, and focused on my own behavior as a result of the change instead

As you read through this edition of The Physicians Report, perhaps you’ll be reminded of your own change experiences, and read how others view change or navigate their transitions. In these stories and articles, I am confident you’ll also agree on one last common element to successful navigations of change: walking alongside someone else. Having a friend, colleague, or community present or lending support is always a plus during these transitional phases—because in the end, no one changes in isolation from others.