Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Autumn - Your True Colors in the Midst of Change


Autumn’s distinguishing beauty of majestic colors inspires reflection and reconciliation for many of us. A year of hibernation, rebirth and celebration has passed into another cycle of letting go of the past, taking ownership for our successes and failures, and establishing new and improved priorities for our future. Each leaf that turns color and falls gracefully to the ground is a metaphor for the unique change that is capable in all of us. We each have the opportunity to display our own vibrant colors through living a life reflective of our honest character and the values we hold dear. With autumn brings a chill in the air, and an understanding that preparations must be made to persevere through a season less bright and less warm. This need to prepare for change is not only initiated by the onset of each distinctive season, but is a lesson reflective in the understanding that change is a part of our daily lives.

To ignore change and not embrace, learn and grow from it will have the same consequences as not preparing for a frigid winter or a sweltering summer. Change potentially creates discomfort, and discomfort creates personal challenges. We all know, and have felt, what leaving our “comfort zone” is like. It forces us to adapt or stand firm, be more creative and/or innovative in our approach toward a personal or professional task at hand. However, the onset of change transcends into the real challenge of revisiting the core values that strengthen your ability to make the decisions to effectively confront the change. Solidifying, updating and redefining the core values of the individual or the organization are the initial steps in building a staircase to overcome the stressors of change. As the spring and summer brought with it a new beginning and growth, so each year brings forth the same opportunity for each of us as human beings. Autumn’s exquisite and colorful display is a celebration of that growth. However, it also provides an understanding that we cannot eternally hold on to what was, but embrace another year of what could be. As each leaf falls, as with each change we confront, believing a new leaf will return in the spring stronger and healthier is the inspiration to carry on.

Consistency is comfortable although it breeds mediocrity. An organization, as with an individual, who does not tackle the challenge of change will ultimately be defeated by the competition, or life, they face. Letting go of unwanted behaviors and destructive patterns of performance is also a wonderful benefit to dealing with change. It forces the necessity to revisit how we do things both in a personal and professional setting. It allows us to potentially create a more efficient and productive work place, and set us on a new path of personal growth and discovery. The onset of change also tests how strong the element of trust is in any environment. Trust is the key element in one’s desire to feel free to communicate, and change forces communication. Therefore, change can be a barometer for the degree of trust an organization or family has by the willingness of those involved with the change to communicate.

From a leadership perspective, change also provides an opportunity to observe another’s true colors. It allows a greater awareness of how those we lead deal with the stress of change, and who of those have the character to embrace the opportunity, or whine about the challenge. Change allows me to know who my future performers and leaders are, and evaluate who may lack the determination and strength of character to handle difficult situations and decisions. A final benefit of change presents an opportunity to develop new skills, hone old ones, and expand your horizon in regard to the greater potential of what you can be. It is satisfying to display the uniqueness of your present colors, but even more to know you have the ability to create a pattern of new colors in the future. As you reflect on the magnitude of nature’s canvas this autumn, celebrate knowing that a new canvas will present itself with the opportunity to paint a more vibrant, substantial and better you.

First Day of School - Not Just for Kids


Having conducted presentations last week for both Schenectady City School District and Mohonasen Central Schools for their staff opening days, I reflected on the enthusiasm, trepidation and personal discovery that many educators were experiencing as the first day of a new school year was upon them. Interestingly, I also heard teachers and staff sharing their mutual experiences of preparing to send their own children off to kindergarten, or having dropped them off at college, for the first time. Having done both with two children of my own, I was empathetic to the emotion of parent/child separation being expressed, yet knew of the excitement that comes seeing your child begin a new life experience. Their departure also puts to the test, whether the values we as parents have attempted to instill in our children blossom in the challenges they are about to endeavor upon.

However, it is also a time to rediscover oneself when the responsibility of raising our children is modified, as a result of their now frequent absence. The constant attention paid to the most important connection we have with another human being, our child, is now diminished and a change in our perspective role as a parent evolves to another level of understanding. For many, our children validate our sense of self-worth and purpose and formulate a desire to work hard, achieve, and help create a life for them we believe will invigorate their potential to succeed. Celebrate your efforts as a mother or father. Your heart felt intuition, and commitment to the core values you believe in will provide you the gauge to measure your parenting success. Throughout my years of developing and inspiring the lives of others, I have discovered it is consistency in behavior reflecting the family values one believes in that sustains a foundation of self-worth and purpose. As your children grow, venture on their own, and leave you alone it is also a first day of school for you. It is a wonderful opportunity to pay attention to you and reflect on your own life and the direction it is taking. The freedom to have the time to ensure you are on a path that is reflective of what you want to be, and become, should be a treasured moment to create a better you.

An opportunity to rediscover you is at hand when the constant need to parent is partially replaced by the role of formal education. Of course our role as parents to evaluate formal education, participate in the process, adapt, and align it with positive family core values is essential to create a well-rounded educational experience for our children. The anxiety associated with having the children leave the nest is felt by all parents, but the anxiety felt once they are gone is more about oneself then those who left. All of a sudden there is no longer the distraction of children when it comes to dealing with you, and your own personal sense of self-worth and self-respect. Many of our own internal dysfunctions raise their ugly head. Do not shy away from them and do not allow them to discourage and depress your own sense of value. Embrace them as a challenge to be a better person, mother, father, professional and example to those around you. Take time to spend on you and begin a transition to reinvigorate yourself, your relationships and participate in the things you love to do.

Five steps to celebrate your first day of school are, * Recognize it is not only a first day of school for your child, but a day of renewal for you. * Establish new goals to enhance your future personal and professional development. * Get out, and participate in events and hobbies that inspire joy in your life and provide a sense of well-being. * Rekindle and refocus on relationships that have helped shape the beautiful person you are. * Celebrate the happy milestone the first day of school brings with it, by believing in your efforts as a parent, and your children’s efforts to become a person reflective of the values that represent the best in you and your family. With the tears of seeing them leave, enjoy the smiles seeing them succeed.

Friday, August 14, 2020

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