How Translators Can Deal With Change

I went to the airport today and something happened to me there that I haven’t experienced for the last twenty years of flying.

It started (and ended) at security.

I showed up to the security section corresponding to my gate and was told that that particular section was closed and that I would have to go down to the next one.

It was a 2 minute walk so it was no big deal.

I found the new security check area I was supposed to use and entered into the lane, ready to show my passport and boarding pass to the TSA official seated at the podium.

As I was waiting for that interaction, however, I noticed that there seemed to be an unusually high number of security personnel stationed at that checkpoint. They had seemingly lined the outside of the roped off area where I and others were waiting in line to present our credentials to the TSA agent.

In addition, another security official was using a dog to roam the area.

It all seemed unusual but not overly so and I just figured that it was an increase in show of force.

After waiting in line for a few minutes, I got up to the front and handed my passport and boarding pass to the TSA agent.

Everything was normal and I was ushered to a baggage screening line.

However, when I got to the line, I noticed that there were no bins. I was traveling with two tablets, a drone, and a laptop and I was prepared (mentally at least) to dump out the contents of my backpack into 34 different bins 🙂

I heard one of the TSA agents say something but I wasn’t listening because I was too concerned with trying to get a bin. I even thought about changing lanes but as I looked around, I noticed that NONE of the lanes had any bins.

Finally, I turned my attention to the TSA agent standing nearby. I started to ask her about the bins but before I could get my question out, she repeated out loud for everyone in the area to hear:

“Don’t take anything out of your bags. Don’t take off your shoes. Don’t take off your belts. Put your bags on the belt and go through the detector.”

I looked at the guy behind me, wondering if I was hearing her right.

He looked back at me and shrugged so I just threw my wallet and passport into my backpack, shoved it through the x-ray machine and walked through the metal detector.

I couldn’t believe it. It was the fastest and least intrusive airport security check I’d been through in over twenty years.

As I found a nearby bench to dig out my wallet from my backpack, another gentleman put his stuff down next to me and started putting on his belt and his shoes. Apparently, the change in the security checkpoint protocol had only lasted a few minutes before reverting back to the normal procedures.

As I thought about this, it made me think about how we approach change. Sometimes we approach change positively, sometimes we’re not as adaptable to change.

We know that change is always happening. There are times when we ourselves effect that change and there are other times when change happens regardless of what we do to keep it from happening.

But if we want to be ready for, and make the most of, the changes that will inevitably happen in our lives, we need to do three things: Observe, Listen, and Accept.


I should have noticed that something was up when I saw the patrolling police dog and increased security before going through the baggage check.

But I didn’t.

I was too comfortable and instead of noticing the clues and recognizing that they might be indicators of future change, I tried to fit what I saw into my built-in worldview of how security checks have been over the last twenty years of flying.

Often there are indicators that change is about to happen.

But a lot of times, we don’t observe what is happening around us. We don’t notice those clues. We don’t want change. We don’t expect change. So we miss the cues.

The key to noticing those cues, then, is to really observe the world around you.

Be present in the moment.

A lot of people talk about being present in the moment but let’s talk about what that means.

Too many times we are worried about two things: 1) what happened in the past or 2) what is going to happen in the future.

In fact, we are so worried about the past and the future that we never even pay attention to what is going on right at this moment. And when we don’t pay attention to what is going on right now, we miss things.

So to be present means to be aware of the current moment. Take right now, for instance.

Look around.

What do you see?

I’m sitting in an airport right now waiting for my flight to take off.

There’s a cleaning cart parked in front of the check-in desk. That’s a little strange but then I notice the owner sweeping up dirt on the next aisle over.

The lady in front of me is wearing a “The Leatherman” shirt. She is having a rough day because her flight was cancelled and she’s been sitting here for eight hours just trying to get a flight home. But luckily, she’ll be on the flight that’s coming in next.

That’s what I see right now. But most people don’t see anything.


The next thing to keep in mind in dealing with change is to listen.

Observing and noticing the precursors to change around you is one thing.

But if you stop and listen, you’ll start to hear things that will help you understand that change is coming.

When I was in the airport baggage security line, the TSA agent was explaining to everyone that there was no need to take off shoes or put anything in bins.

However, I wasn’t listening. I was too busy trying to stay with the status quo, not understanding that things could in fact change.

If I had kept my ears open from the beginning, I would have known what was going on a lot earlier and would have been able to adapt to that change from the beginning.


Finally, to make the most of changes that are going to happen throughout your life, you need to not fight them.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

We can force our own changes if we want. But some changes happen even if we don’t want those changes to happen.

Instead of trying to stem the tide and keep those changes from occurring, the best thing to do is figure out how to make the most of those changes.

You can make an opportunity out of anything that comes up.

Accepting those changes and realizing that you can mold those changes for your own good is a skill that will serve you in a lot of circumstances.


Remember, change is inevitable.

in addition, in a lot of circumstances, there is nothing you can do to stop those changes.

The best you can do is to make those changes a positive force in your life by observing, listening, and accepting.

For more tips on how to become a more successful translator, read my book.

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