We were fortunate to have Nancy Seibel present a webinar  about, Handling Change on February 8, 2017. Many of the participants had questions that we were unable to ask the presenter.  She was kind enough to answer them and they are posted below.  Here is a link to the recording:  Handling Change Starts with Leaders Themselves: Exploring Effective Approaches to Personal and Professional Change

Click here to:  Download the PowerPoint Slides

Handouts:   Seasons of Change  A Workplace Transition  A Career and Life Changing Transition


Q.1. Self compassion is really interesting. Intuition is not really my thing, what shall I do?

A.1. Self-compassion caught my attention, too,  especially when I realized it’s not easy for me to offer it to myself. Then I realized, through my yoga practice,  that I can only be truly compassionate to others when I have compassion for myself. I think we get more lessons in life about how to be self-critical than about how to be self-compassionate, so it’s something many of us teach ourselves in adulthood.  A lot of people struggle with intuition, and recognizing intuitive messages. Here’s some things that might be useful:

Try thinking of intuition as the quick integration of all your knowledge and experience. It happens so fast you may not be aware of the thought or processing involved.. For example, two children in pretend play area are crying hard. Without needing to consciously think about it you know that both need comforting, and assurance that they are safe and secure, regardless of who did what to cause the crying. Your first, intuitive response is to soothe them both, before you try to discover who hit whom first, or who grabbed whose toy.

Try tuning into your intuition by:

  • Try going for a walk with no specific destination in mind. Just go where you feel like going, and see where you end up. Naturally, pay attention to any safety issues – don’t get lost in the woods, or wander in an area that poses safety risks.
  • Pick up some markers or colored pencils and just doodle or draw, whatever you feel like drawing. Don’t worry about if the drawing is good, or if it makes sense. When you’re done, look at it and see what, if anything, it tells you.
  • Go to a restaurant and order whatever you feel most drawn to, without thinking about it a lot. You may or may not like it, as our intuition is only as reliable as the information it’s based on, but you will learn something!
  • Free write for 5 minutes. See what comes out on paper. It may just be random, or it may be your intuition telling you something.




Q.2. In facing procrastination in times of change such as a career and personal relationship change, would you recommend a life coach or a career coach?

A.2. As you suggest, when you find yourself stuck, whether due to procrastination or something else, seeking help from a coach is a wonderful idea. A coach will partner with you in identifying where you want to go, what the barriers are, and will encourage you in getting unstuck and moving forward.


Q.3. What are ways to “track journey”?

A.3. There are several ways to do this. You can use one or more of these, or others that you think of:

  • Make a daily entry in a calendar, something brief that focuses on how you feel, what you’re wondering about, or what you are doing.
  • Try journaling, either daily, weekly or monthly. Set a timer and write for 10 minutes at a time, or longer if you like. Use an open-ended prompt such as “Where I am today.” Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or how understandable someone else would find it. This is just for you.
  • On a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, take a photograph of something that captures what you’re thinking or feeling, and write a little bit (or a lot) about that
  • Make your own visuals by doodling, drawing, or making a collage. Do this on a regular basis, daily, weekly or monthly. Make some written notes about the themes or symbols you find in your visuals.
  • Use the link I to the Seasons of Change questionnaire to help you track where you are in the change spiral. Here it is again. Remember that you are welcome to contact me for a free and friendly conversation about your responses, since they don’t come out as a score or a category, but as a basis for gaining understanding through discussion.

Whichever method(s) you use, review regularly to get a sense of your progress through your change journey. Look for repeating themes, notice words you use a lot, and see if you notice shifts in what you write or record visually as you move through the seasons.


Q.4. How does this play out if you have to tell your staff about immediate staff cutbacks when there is no time to plan etc.

A.4. This points out the reality that change can hit all at once, with no opportunity to get any early signs to help you prepare. Essentially you are plunged into the late Fall to early Winter transition.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Acknowledge the suddenness and seriousness of the change.
  • Speak with affected staff members individually before any group announcements or meetings, if possible. If your staff is large and you can’t individually speak to each person quickly enough, perhaps another program administrator can be trusted to assist with this.
  • Whether individually or in a group setting, create a safe space for voicing of thoughts, feelings and reactions. This includes accepting where people are without trying to talk them out of their feelings – you can provide information that speaks to any misperceptions (ie Why didn’t you tell us earlier? Can be responded to with, “I shared this information as soon as I received it. I was as caught off guard by this as you were.”)
  • Help affected staff members to brainstorm their options.
  • Assure staff members that you will provide any relevant additional information as soon as you receive it.; and follow up on that promise. For example: “The state has informed us that our grant is not being renewed for next year. This takes effect at the end of the fiscal year, and it is going to involve staff layoffs. Those of you who will be directly affected have been informed. I don’t know yet exactly how this will affect remaining staff, or how it will impact children and families. I have to meet with our Board to discuss those questions. As soon as I know more, I will share it with you.”
  • Help staff members access needed information. For example, invite someone from the unemployment office to come in and share information on unemployment benefits. See if the local community college offers job search workshops, and if someone from that program could speak to your staff.
  • Encourage staff members to give themselves time to absorb the impact of this change, to reflect, gain insights, and when ready to begin following up on those insights. Assure them that they don’t have to spend 100% of their time on this, as they will likely have very practical things they need to do too, like update their resumes, apply for jobs, consider what kind of work they want to do moving forward, and so on.
  • Suggest to staff members that they identify their supporters, friends, family members, colleagues and professionals with whom they feel safe. Encourage them to ask for help and support.


Q.5. How long should we allow for the process? I understand each situation is different.

A.5. I wish I could answer that question. I will say that the time needed is shorter when we catch the signs of change early, when we don’t deny or avoid those signs, and when we attend to the tasks of each season. It also varies by how profound the change is. Adjusting to a new job is a pretty big change and the entire change cycle might take 6-12 months to complete. Adjusting to a change that has less of an impact on your life, such as a neighbor is moving, someone you like but are not super-close to, most likely would take a much shorter time, and might be one that doesn’t need a lot of time spent in winter.  Handling change that is complicated by being layered with other, major simultaneous changes is likely to take more energy and time than when there is only one major change to deal with.


Q.6. I agree that all of these areas make good sense however I cannot make a plan therefore I feel stuck. Don’t know how to move forward. I have just become a full-time caregiver and can not get to Spring. How does one deal with not being able to move forward?

A.6. Recognizing that you’re stuck is the first step in finding out how to move forward. Remember that handling change isn’t a DIY (do it yourself) project. Information and support are likely to help you move forward. This help could come from one or more of these sources: Support groups for caregivers, health care professionals serving the person you are giving care to; a life coach, trusted friends or colleagues, especially those who have been in a similar situation; a mental health professional; internet searches of “full-time caregiving” or other relevant topics. I wish you the best with this life transition. Let me know if I can offer more clear guidance; without knowing you or your situation, I can only offer general suggestions.


Q.7. Can you share more specific ways to engage staff who are very reluctant to change – those who are stuck in ‘fall’ or ‘early winter’ while the rest of us are moving towards late winter?

A.7. Some general suggestions for this situation:

  • Help these individuals work on the tasks of Fall or Early Winter. This is where they are. You may need to meet with them individually to do this. It might help to bring in a coach or consultant to assist them.
  • Acknowledge, empathize and respect that this is where they are. They may be moving more slowly for several reasons. This could be their typical style. They may be dealing with one or more other big changes that are affecting their ability to handle this one. There may be transitions that happened in the past that they are still dealing with.


Q.8. How do you use this process to help a staff person understand that they are the one that needs to make some changes when they feel the problem is not her but the children’s behaviors in her classroom and doesn’t feel any changes she makes will make a difference? I could just mandate she do it but feel it would be more effective and powerful for her to understand that she can make changes that will improve her situation

A.8. Excellent point, that it is far more powerful for her to recognize that she can make some changes to improve the situation. Some things to try:

  • Empathize with any frustration the staff member is feeling. You don’t have to agree, but you can empathize with the difficulty of the situation.
  • Ask the staff person to reflect, using some open-ended questions. For example, ask if she has ever been in a similar situation before. If so, ask, “How has expecting the child to change been effective in those situations? Are there times when this expectation has not been effective? Has this kind of situation been a repeating theme?
  • Ask the staff person to consider if the behavior in question could be due to typical developmental change, an underlying physical or mental health issue, a temperament issue, or a sign of stress. Each of these could require the adult to change and adapt – not necessarily to accept the behavior but to find new ways to provide the child with guidance and support.
  • Encourage the staff member to track the behavior, noting time of day and circumstances in which it happens.
  • Brainstorm with her to identify a list of alternative responses she can experiment with. Have her choose one that she’s willing to try, or the one she feels most enthusiastic or curious about. Have her try it out and keep track of how the child responses.
  • Offer to speak with the staff member and the parents together to get the parents’ insights about the child’s behavior.
  • Share an example when you too, thought it was a child who needed to change, and then realized that it was you who needed to adapt and make some changes.

These are just a few ideas, which may spark other thoughts on your part.


Q.9. What’s a good way to reconnect with your true self? How do you define “true” self?

A.9. I define “true self” as your core values and beliefs, the things that you are most passionate about, the things that motivate you to do what you do, the things that give you energy. Another way is to think of this is the essence (what is most essential) of who you are as a human being. What do you like and dislike? What are your most important values? What is the difference you want to make in your life? Answering those questions might help you connect with your true self.

  1. Some other ideas:
  • Think of those times when you feel most at peace; or happiest; those things you are most drawn to; those things you dream of; the things you would do if you didn’t have to worry about anything (like failure, earning a living, others’ disapproval). Write about these things, or draw images of them and see what themes emerge.
  • Similarly, ask yourself, What do I stand against? What makes me feel bored, underutilized, frustrated, angry or overly stressed? What am I repelled by? Write, draw or talk with a trusted friend about your responses to these questions.
  • Make some time to be alone – walking outside or engaging in other physical activity, or doing something pleasurable and repetitive with your hands – knitting, coloring, cooking – so your body is busy and your mind is free. Just see what comes up as you do this.
  • Consider what you define a “success” in life – not what others think is success, but how you see it.
  • Try something new that you’ve always wanted to do – dance, draw, learn a new language – and see how you really like it.
  • Ask yourself new questions. New questions can bring out new answers.
  • Stop doing something that keeps you busy but that you really dislike, that someone else could do, or that doesn’t really have to be done. Free up some time for reflection and discover.

These are just a few ideas. Maybe they will spark other ideas on your part!