Responding to Change – A Personal Reflection

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“The path to influence is easy when the current is smooth, the sky is blue and the coast is clear. To lead with inspiration when the waters are rough, the storm is bearing down and you can’t see what’s next, this is what reveals character”.


I have never been one to sit back and do a deep reflection at the end of any year so when the media outlets and others list their top ten happenings of a year coming to an end, it doesn’t mean that much to me.

I am usually the same way in my personal and professional life. I enjoy the good things achieved and try and learn from things that may not have gone as well as planned. Whatever they are, I am not reflecting on it in late December, at least not until this year.

This past year was a very good year for me as the CEO of Johnson Health Center where we continued to build our organization around the core values we live each and every day on the way to seeing the greatest number of patients in our history.

At Impact2Lead, I also had my most successful year as the type of leadership I subscribe to and teach has become more of a demand as leaders, shareholders, and board of directors seek to transform their cultures and leverage the competitive advantage of an inspired and engaged workforce.

Yes, when the current is smooth and the coast is clear, things always feel good and makes it easy to inspire and influence because the cup feels pretty full. That is, until it’s not.

On April 20, I accompanied my best friend and wife, Kena, to the University of Virginia where she would undergo a relatively complex yet common procedure to remove a cyst on her lone remaining ovary. We had made plans to stay in Charlottesville overnight and enjoy dinner before making the drive back on the next day.

Earlier in the year I had spoken on leading change and then built a workshop around it as it became a popular request at Impact. As human beings, we are not wired to embrace change we cannot control with the biggest obstacle to overcome being fear. My role as a speaker and consultant is to help others understand the dynamics in play and provide a framework for managing it.

When the doctor came to see me post-surgery, I sensed something was not exactly right as she called me into a private room. The conversation that took place in that room is the type none of us want to have and will be forever etched in my memory. You see, I learned that during the surgery, they discovered Kena had a very rare form of ovarian cancer – stage 3. The world around me was about to change – quickly.

So yes, 2018 has been a year of change, transition, transformation, and now reflection. Kena completed a grueling 19-week chemotherapy regimen in October which took a physical toll on her and a mental toll on those who love her.

Throughout the process, it was never why me but rather why not me?

There were a lot of tears early on as we tried to process this, more me than her and thankfully her positive outlook helped me through the change process. It helped me examine what change really looks like and how responding vs. reacting is really the driver of a successful transition.

This has helped me as I have now experienced a dramatic change from the other side, one I could not control. It will help me be a better leader and mentor, friend, parent, and spouse as I move into 2019.

Wherever you are heading in 2019, know that change happens constantly. Some of it is gradual and some of it hits all at once. Know that your personal handling of the change will impact how others adapt and as long as you take the fear out by approaching it in a positive fashion, you will be successful – even if the change is you. Also know that everyone responds or reacts differently and the key is to listen to them and don’t dismiss their perception of the change.

For now, Kena’s numbers are stable and good – our Christian faith is strong that healing is here to stay. At the same time, we are prepared as the journey will be a bit unpredictable and life as we knew it has changed. This has presented us a powerful and impactful opportunity to share with others how responding to change is all in your attitude and approach.

I look forward to seeing you all during my travels in 2019 and pray it will be a most “Impactful” journey for you. I already know it will be for me and I am looking forward to see what I learn next.

Happy New Year!

Gary Campbell