It is difficult to watch any news report or have a conversation on the health of the economy without the subject of jobs moving overseas surfacing. These jobs used to be the backbone of the economy of many cities and communities around this country. They used to be part of our daily lives, but now they have become part of the new normal for the people in the countries where they have landed. Many of us in the United States are still waiting for those jobs to come back and would like things to go back to the way they were.
When change occurs, it forces us to straddle the divide between the two normals.
One foot is firmly planted in our past—the way things used to be. There, in our old normal, we enjoy the luxury of the known. That is where we feel confident, comfortable, and safe. We are reasonably sure that we can succeed with the talent and skills we have acquired.
On the other side of the chasm, the other foot is firmly planted by circumstances beyond our control. These include the economy, a personal health issue, a relationship crisis, a terrorist attack, etc. On the far side of the chasm, we find that our world is turned around. We are no longer confident that we are equipped with the tools that will be needed to succeed. In fact, many of us find it exceedingly challenging to succeed on this far side of the chasm and foolishly make the decision to wait things out until circumstances return to normal and both feet are once again planted on the correct side. What if circumstances don’t return to normal? What if the new circumstances are the new normal?
Leaving our comfort zone is always a difficult proposition.
As creatures of habit, we loathe the idea of letting go of the security of knowing what to expect next, even when this security is not serving our best interests. The truth is that, at some point in our lives, the comfort zone does diminish in satisfaction. You no longer find the job challenging or rewarding, the honeymoon period in your relationship is long gone (and you are now stuck in an endless cycle of conflicts), or you no longer find your neighborhood desirable (it has gotten too busy and loud) for your laid back style. It is during these times that our normal turns out to be quite abnormal, but we are too accustomed to its contours and nuances to think about venturing beyond our comfort zone. This is when the forces of change compel us to change, and we find ourselves straddling the ever-widening chasm between our old and new normals.
The gap between the old and new normal is time, and it impossible to turn back the hands of time. I will never be able to stroll up to the gate and quickly and easily check in for my flight. Chances are, your job isn’t coming back from overseas, and your neighborhood will most likely not be re-transformed into the quiet little haven it once was.
We can all recall that familiar scene in the movie: the faithful dog lies on the porch, day after day, patiently waiting for his master to return. He then sprints off jubilantly to meet him as soon as the master breaks the skyline.
Whatever your master is, unlike in the movies, it is not coming back.
Stop serving the old normal and find new goals and dreams that will serve you better.
It is time to embrace change.
As you continue to straddle the ever-widening gap between the normals, these competing forces will create an ever-deepening crisis, and you will find yourself unable to live up to your full potential on either side.
As the historian Eric Hoffer so eloquently puts it, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
It is time for you to start developing strategies and enhancing the skills that are going to allow you to succeed in the new environment. It is time to embark on an adventure into the new normal.
If you are a brick and mortar store, you may need to also have an online presence and leverage social media. It may be time to seriously re-evaluate your relationship or consider your next career move.
The old way is gone. Never to come back. The individuals and companies who recognize this in a timely manner and take steps to address it will position themselves for success.
It is time to welcome the new normal.
Keep On Pushing!
As an original member of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team and captain of the 1992 and 1998 teams, three-time Olympian Devon Harris achieved his grand dream. His current dream is to inspire others to achieve theirs. Tapping the same energy, determination, and skills that enabled him to bobsled with the best in the world, Devon, as a motivational speaker, is now sparking audiences of all ages to dream big and take their “game” to the next level. For more inspiration from Devon, visit his website or check him out on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by 27147.