Going Through Changes

George Alexander has just realized a dream that many share: He is a published author. He went on tour with his first book, Why We Make Movies: Black Filmmakers Talk About the Magic of Cinema (Broadway Harlem Moon; $15.95), earlier this year, and he admits, with a broad grin, that he’s “loving every minute of it.”

Perhaps part of the reason he can so appreciate this high point in his career is because he remembers what it was like to feel just the opposite. About seven years ago, the Mobile, Alabama, native was a bank vice president in New York City with an enviable salary and lifestyle. But, he says, “I was in a state of constant complaint. I hated my job.”

In search of a positive outlet, he started taking weekend courses in screenplay writing and film production. “The minute I walked into that classroom, my life changed. I knew there was another way to live,” says Alexander. Yet, while his mind-set changed, his lifestyle didn’t, for reasons anyone can understand: fear of leaving a job without having a job; fear of disappointing friends and family who were proud of his so-called success; fear of failure; fear of the unknown; fear of change.

Whether you need it, choose it, crave it (as Alexander did), or have it thrust upon you, change is never easy. Changes in our health, our jobs, our finances, and our personal lives can send us reeling. Even just changing your diet or exercise habits are more than most of us can stand for more than the first two weeks of a new year. Let’s face it: We are creatures of habit. Routine and predictability are comforting. Shaking it all up launches us out of that comfort zone and forces us to adapt, often when we’re not certain of the outcome.

The technology boom has us all in a constant state of flux as new products and applications replace old ways of doing things almost daily in our work and in our lives. As if that’s not enough, the current economy with its attendant layoffs, the trauma of Sept. 11, and the constant threat of war only exacerbate the problem. As the old saying goes, “Too much of anything is a bad thing.” Or, as Mary-Frances Winters, CEO of The Winters Group Inc. in Rochester, New York, and author of Only Wet Babies Like Change: Workplace Wisdom for Baby Boomers (Renaissance Publishing Inc.; $24.95), says, “No one can stay on a roller coaster for too long without feeling queasy.”

Of course, there are those who love roller coasters. They sit right up front, throw their hands up high, and go! They may scream, but they still go back for more. Somehow, they accept the lack of control and feel sure that they’ll be fine. Without any fear impeding them, they actually enjoy themselves. Embracing change requires the same ability to let go, as on a roller coaster, and goes against instinct for most (see sidebar, B.E.’s “Successpert Speaks”). “The power