Autumn – Change is in the air

As the leaves start to turn glorious yellow and oranges, the nights start to draw in and I finally accept that Summer is over for another year  – my thoughts turn to my two daughters. One is about to start senior school as a Year 7 and the other to start her first year at University. I reflect on what awaits them as they reach these two important life milestones.

From being the big fish in a small pond to being the small fish in a massive pond. I remember my first day with nervous excitement – new school uniform, finally going to ‘big school’ and being excited about getting homework!  My first day as an under graduate was pretty much the same nervous excitement but my thoughts were different – What would be my new ‘uniform’? Where can I cash my grant cheque? Who any of these people become my friends as I looked round at all these new strangers in the lecture hall for the first time?

Change is uncomfortable for most people, even when you know it’s going to lead to better things in the long run. Having face to face connections – finding something in common with each other – reassurance that others feel the same – understanding what is planned for that first day. These things were important then when I was 11 and 18 and remain important to me today when leading change programmes. Time taken to establish trust and common ground pays dividends – be that at Secondary School, University or a change programme delivered in an organisation.

This academic year means more change for everyone – students, teachers and parents as we all deal with the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19. What we have learnt over the last 6 months is that that change can be embedded quickly and successfully. New routines are established. Phone, keys, mask, sanitiser!

So what advice would I give my daughters as they enter this new change?

You are going to get butterflies as you approach your first day – but so is everyone else.
Be that one to start the conversation.
It’s the start of a new adventure – making new friends, some for now, some for life
New experiences that you should grab with both hands.
Every day is an opportunity to learn, help others and have fun.