Nature of Change

Why me? You've wondered it, and so has everyone else. As the saying goes, the only thing that is constant is change. No matter what you do, it is there, waiting. The first step in dealing with it is to get a better grasp of the concept.

No Straight Lines

There is no such thing as a straight line. To ensure steady movement — physically, psychologically, or organizationally — you'd need to have a constant force that could always point accurately in the right direction with no sort of obstruction or resistance to change your path in even the smallest way.

That, of course, never happens. When a pilot flies a jet from Los Angeles to Chicago, there are hours of slight changes involved. Try to make yourself think of the word elephant for an hour; you will have forgotten it long before you reach the end of this chapter. Some will say, “But I achieve what I set out to do all the time.” Nonsense. If you are honest and compare the results with your intent, either you'll find differences from your specific initial plan, or you'll find that you started with a general picture that left plenty of room for the compromises in execution called experience.

Change Follows You

Change isn't something that happens here and there. No matter where you go, there it is — and no wonder. Life is a complex interaction of millions of factors, all connected to each other. If any one thing changes, so do all the interactions, sometimes in imperceptible ways.

According to some scientists, the beat of a butterfly's wings can cause significant changes in weather. The wings connect with air that strikes other objects that create eddies that eventually compound and cause a storm.

You live in a world where everything is changing. It's not that change stalks you. Instead, since change is everywhere, it is already where you are heading.

Change Isn't Cataclysmic

Just as things seem to be going well, something happens to overturn the cart. That view isn't realistic. Usually people are so tied up with their concerns and interests that they don't notice change as it happens. The concept that things stay in place is an illusion. You're either moving forward or falling behind every minute, and so is everything else. Eventually positions shift so much that you become aware of them.

Change Is Quick

At one time, change was slow. Movements like industrialization took decades to really take hold, and societies were relatively static. It could take centuries for the basis of an economy or political system to shift. Think of the time it took to move out of feudalism and into a broader concept of private property. Even as recently as the early twentieth century, significant social change still took years, even decades, to occur and people had some time to adjust.

Talk to experts and they'll tell you that back in the sixteenth century, it took a good fifty to seventy-five years for a change in fashion to move from political capitals down through a chain of connections and into a country's backwaters.

The Internet turned media upside down in less than fifteen years. Change literally bombards us in fashion, in the economy, through the media, even in climate. We no longer have time to adjust to change.

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