I’ve been thinking about change lately, and as it turns out, change is a curious creature. In fact, I can think of few other things we encounter on a daily basis that are simultaneously so inevitable and easy to put off.
Recently, while doing some (slightly belated) reflecting on the year that was and planning for the year ahead, I jotted down the following notes in the page margin:
- You can’t change what you can’t change.
- You can’t expect anything to change unless you change it.
1. You can’t change what you can’t change
(i.e. change is inevitable)
Things will change. You can’t escape or control it. Technology will advance, your web content will become outdated, the news media and blogosphere will become preoccupied with the latest and greatest, and your audiences’ preferences will evolve.
The exceptional quality of this truth is that it remains constant no matter whether you are a solopreneur or a billion dollar telecom.
You can refuse to acknowledge this change, you can play the victim, or you can fight it tooth and nail (you can even do all three at the same time). But all you will end up with is a futile expenditure of your time, energy, and (likely) money, which leads to the next point…
2. You can’t expect anything to change unless you change it
(i.e. change is easy to put off)
Yes, the world around us can change, and we can complacently resolve to remain exactly as we are in spite of it.
Alternatively, the world around us can change, and we can wonder why things aren’t changing for us too.
On a personal or organizational level, we have to commit to change and be willing to undertake the hard work to implement a vision in order to evolve with what’s occurring at a broader level. This commitment to evolution will be endlessly tested by fear of uncertainty and loss, along with ever-present political forces at play.
But rest assured that the world will neither wait for us, nor revert back to a previous state in order to make our lives easier.
Of course, no person or organization should change for change’s sake. There’s a substantial difference between responding to trends, and just being trendy. Today it’s ABC social network, yesterday it was XYZ. To implement change absent of strategy is a fool’s errand.
And there’s also still some merit to the phrase “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, when something does start to seem broken or ineffective, and when research corroborates a hunch that it’s time to evolve, then it is time.