What you can control…

| by Bert Armstrong

In recent months my team at Armstrong McGuire has been helping some terrific organizations across North Carolina navigate change – transitions in executive leadership; the loss of long time staff members and volunteers; changes in vision and direction; and growing pains as they seek to serve better or serve more.  Listening to the reactions to change among board members, departing executives, nervous staff members, dedicated volunteers and donors, I have sensed their struggle between longing for things to stay the way they are, and embracing the inevitable, unavoidable reality of change.  This is a very human response to change and I’ve found myself having many of the same reactions in my personal life.

For many who know me, my mom, and my sisters, you know that we’ve been dealing with some pretty major life changes over the past few months.  For those of you who don’t know my family personally, don't worry.  Everything is fine -- just changing.  All you really need to know for the sake of this article is that I am blessed with a terrific mother who did an incredible job raising me and my two wonderful sisters, and a hometown full of caring and amazing people who helped raise us and support us when our dad died way too young. The rest of the stuff I’ll save for a friendly chat over coffee or a cold beer. 

As we’ve navigated these recent life changes, I have found myself torn between my moments of nostalgia as I reflect on a lifetime of family memories, and my anxiety about what this next chapter in life has in store for someone I care for so much. I wonder how it will affect our family. I am convinced that every one of these reactions is healthy and necessary when navigating change in our lives. What I can do is have a dogged resolve to tackle whatever is heading our way with an open mind and a positive outlook.  I learned that from my mom and dad!  

In the organizations we work with I witness reactions to change that include the fear that new people may think differently than those who came before, concerns about the design and impact of new buildings, new programs, and new ways of operating.  I think all of these emotions are appropriate if we are to maintain a healthy and vibrant culture within the organizations we work for, volunteer with, and offer our financial support. It is part of our job as advisors to understand these responses while assisting clients in the process of adapting to change.  I also have witnessed amazing resolve in coming to grips with the inevitable, unavoidable reality of change and embracing it with an optimistic attitude.  I marvel at stakeholder’s ability to embrace the known and unknown challenges that lie ahead with a resolute focus on sustaining and strengthening the mission, programs and services they care about so deeply. 

So cheers to my wonderful mom, dad and sisters - and to my amazing hometown of Mount Gilead for teaching me that we are all better when we can celebrate the best parts of our past, while being positive and optimistic as we look forward to a hopeful future together!  And cheers to the great staffs, board members, volunteers and donors who embrace that same spirit!  

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