At a recent evening meal, I was surprised to hear one of the female guests say, “People don’t really change, do they?” Given the current organizational ethos — change is the only constant — along with women being the purveyors and consumers of the personal development movement, I was doubly surprised. When no one at the table of nine responded, I felt I had to rebut with, “I believe people do change. However, it usually takes conscious choice and considerable commitment.” Again there was no response, and the subject died.
As someone whose career constant over the past 30 years has been some form of transformation whether personal, interpersonal or systems — individuals, teams, organizations, networks and ecosystems — I was puzzled by the complete disregard of the topic. Are we, as a society, so overwhelmed with fear and/or the sheer volume of daily changes taking place within and around us that we no longer have the desire or capacity to discuss it?
I touched on this topic in one of my previous blogs, Change Avoider or Change Adaptor, which explored the shifting paradigms of thinking, behaving and being that we currently undergo. My blog addressed the global need to reframe our typical worldviews, models or patterns of behaviour and replace them with something radically new and possibly antithetical. I posed the question “Are you a change avoider or a change adaptor?
Change Avoiders Change Adaptors
Characteristics Resistance Determination
Denial/depression Acceptance/graceful adaptation
When I consider the characteristics above and relate them to the World Health Organization’s statistics for 2020 — Depression will be the 2nd leading cause of disease globally — I am reminded of the impact a pessimistically negative worldview has on one’s overall health. Who hasn’t been touched by depression’s long reach? I am also reminded that for a pessimist making any choice is always the interplay between what appears to be bad or good, rather than necessarily what is. Instead of judging our multitude of daily choices as based on whether the outcome will be bad or good, what would happen if we gracefully accept whatever shows up and deal with it as it is?
When I took stock of my own quick jump to judgment, I began to practice this radically new and antithetical way of living — acceptance or just being. It had to be better than depression, right? It took me several years to release what felt like an instinct to judge everything and replace it with graceful, sometimes begrudging, acceptance. The behaviour pattern was and is deeply habituated. For the most part, society favours judgment and is made up of human’s judging rather than human’s being.
Nonetheless, I persevered with my experiment and discovered that it changed everything. Instead of trying to manipulate my environment to serve myself, I accepted what showed up in my life and asked, “What do I need to learn from this?” Overtime, my childhood joy in life found its way back to me, and life once again became the great adventure it is intended to be. Stress is relatively non-existent within me because I am bolstered with greater enthusiasm and much, much less fear.
I believe the brilliance of being human is our capacity for adventure. It is in our genetic makeup to explore, to go where no one has gone before. When we can’t or won’t express this creative ability, we shrivel up and die in mind, body and spirit.
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin
My good friend, Jake, expressed this pull between resistance and acceptance very succinctly —
Every once in a while I find myself objecting to making a change in my life,
and then I become aware that what I don’t want to change or feel like changing
is exactly what I need to change in order to grow and to become more and
more what I have the potential to be. Am I the only one or is this common to
the human condition?
What has been your response-ability to change? Are you an adventurous adaptor or a sad survivor?