Mobilized or Paralyzed by Change

NASA shuttle takes off

A lot of people cringe when they hear the word “change”.  We all have our comfort zones, and when things are good, hearing that change is coming can be a scary thing. The newest addition to Arlan’s speaker roster, Dr. Mark DeVolder, is an expert in change.  He has spoken to audiences across the world and teaches them how to deal with the inevitable change we will all experience in our lives, be it personal, in the workplace, or in our community. Change doesn’t have to be a scary thing, if we know what to expect and if we have the tools to use it to our advantage. To learn more about Mark and his message, contact us, and read on…


I love what I do.  For over 18 years I’ve traveled the globe speaking to a wide variety clients:  Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders, as well as small associations or groups in remote areas of the world.   I’ve engaged audiences from New York to Dubai, from Singapore to Barcelona and from Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur.

Invariably I’m asked the question, “which experience or place was your favourite?”  That’s a tough choice because my career has brought many surprises, challenges and opportunities:

  • a private client concert with Enrique Iglesias in Monaco;
  • racing camels around the pyramids in Egypt;
  • putting out a fire on stage in Jamaica;
  • giving NASA astronauts tools to soar higher.

Even though it’s difficult to choose, I admit that working with NASA was one of the most poignant.   In 2004, President Bush announced that the Space Shuttle Program would be retired in 2010.  The shock waves of that decision were felt around the world, but no more dramatically than in Florida’s Space Coast.  Not only does the NASA drive the economy of the region, but the direct impact of the President’s decision would result in over 7000 scientists and engineers losing their jobs as well as 14,000 unemployed support staff.

During my presentation for NASA and the Economic Development Commission, I talked with participants about the stages of transition during major changes.  During stage one, time seems to race by;  there is usually a flurry of confusing activity while people try to process the implications of this new change.

However, during stage two the exact opposite happens; Time feels like it stands still.  After describing the two stages, I asked the audience to indicate which stage would be more difficult for them.  Ninety percent indicated that “being on hold” in stage two would definitely be the hardest.

After my presentation, one man asked if he could talk with me.  He introduced himself as John, one of the 7000 rocket scientists who would be losing his job.  His question was direct and simple:  “How long?”   He wanted to know how long he and his colleagues would have to wait for this phase to be over.   His expression was searching and desperate.  I lowered my voice, leaned closer to him and replied, “unfortunately probably much longer than you think.”

The reality for most people during phase two is that it takes much longer than they thought or were prepared to endure.

Even though transitions can be challenging, frustrating and at times seemingly unbearable, there are two actions that shorten the time period and make it possible to move forward:   Accept and Let Go.   When we accept the new reality and let go of the past, we position ourselves to embrace the future.  Each of us has a choice to make; will we be paralyzed or mobilized by change?


Dr. Mark DeVolder shows people how to navigate change, increase personal resilience and get engaged. 

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