Change as a journey – and a choice
I can’t begin to comprehend how many studies have been conducted, books published and articles written on the topic of change. Taking it at face value why bother, right? If change is all around us and is constant once you’ve researched, published and written about it, isn’t it already old hat? Not really.
It’s like talking about the weather. You can describe, plan and prepare for today’s weather and it’s relevant – today. Tomorrow is another story! But change, like happiness, is a journey not a destination.
There are two popular clarion calls on change that have been on my mind, and I find I’m struggling with both of them. One is the popular book Who Moved My Cheese?, first published in 1998. The other is a quote from Albert Einstein, often referred to as the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you combine the two you get, Who Moved My Insanity?
Who Moved My Cheese? was a huge hit and sold more than 26 million copies worldwide. Its premise was that staking a known path (through a maze) to a reward (the cheese) proves ineffective over time because of change. The characters in the book, mice named Sniff and Scurry, sought cheese, found cheese, then sought cheese again and found cheese again. So the fact that cheese was depleted through consumption and the search process was repeated seems reasonable and was successful. And, with great respect to Mr. Einstein, that doesn’t sound insane to me.
To give ol’ Albert his due, what may qualify as insanity is stopping the process assuming one had arrived needing no further effort or diligence. But that isn’t necessarily insanity. It could also be labeled laziness, complacency, and so on.
Failure has many sponsors. Another character in the book, Hem, represented many of them. Hem was locked in his mindset as the victim, blaming others for his plight and finding comfort in his old routine. Hem’s tiny human counterpart, Haw, gained confidence as he searched and left encouraging messages on the walls of the maze.
Let me clearly confess I don’t claim to be more intelligent than Albert Einstein. Far from it. But if we give change its due and accept it’s always present, how could we expect anything but different results?
As with the cheese things changed. No one moved the cheese, per se, so doing the same thing over and over (taking the same path and eating the known cheese) did produce different results – no cheese. The premise of Who Moved My Cheese? is antithetical to Mr. Einstein’s definition for a reason: Results aren’t the same because of the process!
Facts, conditions, rules and many other factors change. That’s the essence of change. Nothing moves, and doing the same thing over and over again must produce a different result due to change. So to navigate the moves in life (and in business) and avoid insanity, we need to be armed with a process to find more cheese. The foundation for that process is resiliency enhanced by agility.
Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Sniff and Scurry were responsive. Haw was to some degree, but Hem not so much.
To be responsive to change. one must have the skills, mindset and commitment to adapt. It’s a choice.
Choose a path on your journey that builds your resiliency while adding agility to your mindset to be proactive in the world of change. Individual agility leads to an agile team which creates an agile organization. With that, you’ll never want for cheese.