Change is best viewed as a positive challenge

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John Andrus
  • 62nd Medical Operations Squadron commander
With the weather warming and new growth appearing, the smell of spring is in the air -- bringing with it the promise of change. This means a transition to warmer weather, outdoor activities and longer days. Of course, it also brings the end of a school year, a permanent change of station for many families, changes of command and other organizational changes within the 62nd Maintenance Group, the merging of the mission support and services squadrons, formation of a consolidated wing commanders support staff, consolidation of financial services at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., joint basing initiatives and medical BRAC actions at the 62nd Medical Clinic. 

Early in my career I was told the story of an older gentleman who, while sitting on his porch on the outskirts of a western town, saw a family in a loaded wagon approach. It turns out they were just moving into town. They asked, "What is this town like?" He asked them, "What was the town like that you left?" When they responded that they had come from a wonderful town and left many friends behind, he informed them their new town was just as friendly. 

Later that day, another family in the same circumstance rolled into town with the same question. In speaking of their former home, they responded that they couldn't wait to leave; the people were unfriendly and didn't really give them a fair shake. The old man then replied that this town was the same. 

The point of the story is that these families could expect to repeat their former experiences because of their attitude and view of the world. A PCS alone would not change that. Martha Washington summed up the lesson well when she said, "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." 

Change is challenging and some handle change better than others. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may view upcoming changes as welcome challenges, scary intruders or something in between. Regardless of our best positive attitude and approach to life, change does cause stress. There is much in the change experience that we do not control. One key to handling change is to focus on those things you can influence rather than expending energy complaining about those things you cannot. 

Another effective tool to help navigate change is to identify constant, unchanging life threads that will carry through the change process. These may include family or friend associations, hobbies or interests, fitness routines, academic studies, volunteer service, religious practices and associations, or perhaps a vehicle, a home or some other valued object or possession. 

Focusing on and keeping these elements in place bring constancy and stability as we move through changing times and circumstances. 

One thing is sure, our environment is never static. In the Air Force, we experience almost constant change. We can choose a positive or negative approach and determine if we will focus on problems or solutions. 

Identifying and holding on to the constants in our lives is an effective way to ease us and our families through change. I would hope that we will all enjoy the sunshine, newness
and changes brought on by a new season and likewise anticipate that as Team McChord, we will approach our organizational changes with the same enthusiasm and expectation of success. We will not falter -- nor will we fail!