Al Siebert visits a local coffee shop that has a plastic cup near the cash register. On it is printed: "Afraid of change? Leave yours here here...

Al Siebert visits a local coffee shop that has a plastic cup near the cash register. On it is printed: “Afraid of change? Leave yours here.”

Siebert appreciates this little joke probably more than others. As director of The Resiliency Center in Portland, he’s familiar with how people handle change in their lives, and what happens when, as the coffee cup says, they’re afraid of change.

“As children, we are playful, ask questions and are very curious,” he says. “But when we become adults, we often lose that.”

The problem is that when we lose our thirst for learning something new or different, we become adverse to any kind of alterations in life. That’s why changes at work, such as downsizings, layoffs, mergers and restructurings, have become so stressful for so many.

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“For many decades, employers sought employees who were caretakers. That meant they wanted employees who went along, who were told what to do. They followed the job description,” Siebert says.

“Now, with so much change in the workplace, employers are looking for those who can reorient themselves quickly — people who adapt to change.”

That has many scrambling to find new footing in the working world, he says.

“What we have to remember is that we are deeply, intrinsically born to be highly resilient,” he says. “We must return to that. We must behave with lifelong curiosity and learning.”