“Valley of Despair.” That’s what I called it in my book (“Inspiring Bold”).
I first learned about the change curve when facilitating Lean events. A Lean event would bring together a team of 10-12 employees that would focus on break through change. The change curve used to describe the mood of the team as they worked through these changes. A variety of emotions would arise, typically starting with shock, denial and anger as the team looked at pain points and the current state of the process. And then it evolved into acceptance, enthusiasm, and engagement as the team made changes for the better.
I was fascinated with the dynamic and loved my role of ensuring the team made it through the “valley of despair.” Sometimes I would go over this with the team and draw it as a roller coaster. Sometimes people didn’t believe me until the end of the week but undoubtedly, every team ended up going through the curve.
It became more meaningful to me as I carried this philosophy to changes in my own life. It could be any change, big or small, but some version of this applied. You might move through some emotions faster or dwell at certain parts longer.
So where does mindfulness fit into this?
Recently, it dawned on me that mindfulness lets you get off the roller coaster. Well not exactly but kinda. Being aware of the moment means being aware of where you are at in the curve. By getting off the roller coaster, I mean you can realize where you are at in the change curve and figure out what you are doing to do with it. Maybe if you are at the beginning, you give yourself time or double down in the healthy activities. Maybe if you are at the bottom, you take a step back to make sure you are examining all the paths that lead out of the valley instead of just trying to get out of that uncomfortable spot. And lastly, if you are on the way out of the valley, maybe instead of getting caught up in the excitement, you figure out how to ensure your direction and momentum sustain and that you exit truly for the better.
Just a few different thoughts here as I have always spoke about the change curve in a negative way with teams but perhaps, mindfulness lets you take a different perspective that allows you to get the most meaning from the change at hand.