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Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything – George Bernard Shaw
It’s been said that the one constant in life is change. But why are we so resistant to it? It could be because it upsets what we have come to view as normal. Normal doesn’t necessarily mean permanent. Otherwise, we would all be victims of our stubbornness instead of beneficiaries of change. I have fallen into the former category a few times. More recently I have been resistant to the meatless burger trend. My take is that meat that has no beef or turkey or chicken cannot possibly taste like meat. That all changed when I decided to take a bite of my wife’s meatless burger (she is more open to change). To my surprise, there was no rubber-like texture or taste. It was actually good. Change may be resisted but it’s a necessary non-negotiable in life.
Change is a Necessity
I still enjoy listening to music on CD’s but I cannot ignore the fact that how we consume music is rapidly changing. Music executives who refuse the change are probably out of business because of the digital music revolution. Banking has also changed enormously. Now banks have more software coders than cashiers and tellers. Even grocery stores have self-checkout counters. I still think I should get a discount for checking myself out. Just a thought!
Then, some things never change as I learned from watching Frozen 2 with our daughter. They are certain certainties. For example, I believe the simplicity of truth does not change no matter how convincing a lie is. Another thing that should not change are the values we derive based on the truth. Truth should be objective, not subjective, otherwise, it becomes a casualty of the culture and trends. But in reality, most of what is normal was once resisted change. Like coffee.
The Unimaginable Normal
Could you believe there was a time that coffee as a drink of choice besides wine, beer, and tea was resisted? In his book, Innovation and Its Enemies, Carmelous Juma mentions how resistors of coffee went as far as to say that it would make people sterile and cause hysteria. Such reactions, he says, happen because change causes a perceived fear of loss. The loss is attributed to the tension between what is known and unknown. This is fertile ground for fear. It is this fear that also keeps our visions from becoming reality especially when it calls for a change in our normal operations. By nature, a vision is disruptive and calls for us to change. In this instance, the best thing to do is to set the vision in motion.
Set it in Motion
How do we set our vision in motion especially when change is required? This question will be answered in four parts during this month’s blog posts. Here is the guide:
The ABC’S Of Change (today’s post)
Knowing Your Absorptive Capacity (2/13/20)
Building Your Creative Strength (2/20/20)
Improving Your Perceptive Vision (2/27/20)
Let’s begin with the ABCs of Change.
Change Requires Agility
While vision is fixed, our plans must remain flexible and subject to change. It’s the small incremental changes we choose, adopt, and implement over a sustained period that produces big results. For visions are often lost in our reluctance to change.
This hit home while watching a documentary about leopards. They are not only fast but also agile. They can change directions while maintaining their speed. This is crucial when hunting prey. It’s the difference between eating and going hungry. Our visions can also starve due to our inability to be agile in the face of change. Sometimes change can be spending more time on what is important and less on what’s urgent. It could also be starting something that you have been putting off because your perceived fear of loss is greater than the reality of what you will gain from the change.
Be stubborn with your vision but be willing to adjust your plans or processes along the way if necessary. Ship navigators must do this if they are to reach their set destination. So must visionaries. This is where your agility and adaptability pays dividends in your execution of the vision. But this willingness is enhanced when you believe in the change you need.
Change Must Be Believed
Believing doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of doubt. It means the voice of doubt has been suppressed or rendered inoperative by the power of belief. First, you must believe in the vision you have crafted. Your heart and mind must be aligned. Without this in place excuses instead of execution will be the default response to any change. The less abstract your vision, the more believable it will be. Second, brace yourself to defend the changes that your vision calls for. This does not mean having an explanation to justify the change but through continuous action applying the change(s) necessary. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
While “the current of society moves in the direction of conformity” as Andy Stanley says, applying changes will make your life stand out. People of vision don’t conform or blend in, they stand out. Vision introduces a focus and intensity that not all people can handle. The person who must ultimately believe the vision and the changes needed is you. And as you implement change in one area of your life you will begin to take note of other changes as well.
Change Leads To Change
Sounds obvious right? But what’s obvious can also be oblivious. You see, for change to happen, action must be taken. And it is the first step towards the change that trips many of us up. Although booby-trapped with excuses, the first step is always the most crucial. After the first step, the next steps seem to come more easily and “one change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others” as once observed by Niccolo Machiavelli. For example, cutting up credit cards to eliminate debt will lead to spending beneath your means and saving more money. These connect to form a powerful change link. This change begets change sequence makes change valuable and long-lasting. What step towards an initial change do you need to make right now?
Final thought: The change(s) you implement should support not compete with your vision. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” So, will you brave the change you fear the most for the sake of progress? Your vision and perhaps your future just might depend on it.
Keep on Keeping on!