Change is good?

“The main danger in this life are the people who want to change everything…or nothing.”  (Nancy Astor) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog

We live in a world of constant change, yet there are many things that we try to keep the same. Back at the end of September I wrote a post titled “Change is Good.” In that post I did opine that change just for change sake isn’t necessarily good. Today’s saying seems to point out that those who are overly change oriented or those who resist any change are both at the wrong ends of the spectrum. It is frustrating for those at those polar opposite positions if they happen to be members of the same organization – one side pulling for massive change and the other digging in in resistance to any change.

I suspect that even the most diehard advocate of staying the same would begrudgingly admit that change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same forever. The ravages of age and wear eventually dictate change, just to keep from falling apart. Those who advocate wholesale change will also have to admit that maintaining some connection with the past is necessary to maintain identity, to be able to measure afraidthe differences in where you are going and where you have been. Even if the link to the past and the way things were is just symbolic, there is value in remembering and perhaps honoring that heritage. There is an old saying about what happens if we forget about our past.

I think the thing that scares people into resisting change the most is fear of the unknown. As bad as it may be right now, whatever state your organization (or life) may be in, it is at least a known thing. You understand it. You can get your arms around it. You can commiserate about it. Who knows how that new thing that is being suggested by the change-mongers will work out? What if it doesn’t work? Will we be worse off? The second thing that causes resistance is the pace of change. Why do we have to change so much, so fast? Couldn’t we just make smaller, more incremental changes? Sometimes there are no half-steps available. Getting a puppy to see how parenting might work out for you isn’t the answer; though it might get you more used to cleaning up poop.

One key to successfully navigating change in your organization and your life might be knowledge – taking the time to understand or explain the suggested changes – how things would be different and how they would work under the change; along with a clear and understandable explanation about the proposed steps to achieve the change and the plans to deal with any risks involved. Given a clear butterflies into the unknownexplanation that the resistors can understand and discuss openly will alleviate much of the fear of the unknown. There may still be disagreement about the need for the change, but that should also be covered as part of the discussion about the change process. Hopefully you can explain how things will get better because of the change, not just be different.

Any discussion of change ultimately focuses back on self and one’s ability to change themselves. Most often that focus is internal, on the attitude or outlook on life that you bring to the process and how to change that. There are tons of great books and articles that you can read and posters that you can hang on your wall about changing your attitude and becoming more positive. Just Google quotes about change.  I think the key thought is summed up nicely in this quote –

“I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.” – Gillian Anderson

So, have a great weekend or make the personal changes necessary to have one.

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