Saturday, September 3, 2011

Changing to stay the same

Have you ever noticed those people who seem to be mired in the past? At one of the organisations I’ve consulted in over the last 15 years, there’s an individual who is exactly the same today as he was when I first met him. He dresses the same, talks the same, acts the same and has the same haircut. It’s amazing. In a world of massive change, he has managed to remain as if he is chained and locked in a time-warp.

In a world of massive and accelerating change

Now think about this... In the last 20 years, the world has changed massively. In my short lifetime I’ve seen milk and bread being delivered to our door via horse and cart when I was a child, through to the dying off of home delivery of these commodities and processes. Now we have racing cars that can do 0 – 100 mph in less than 3.6 seconds. A world wide web of interconnected information. Mobile devices that allow me to communicate instantly almost anywhere in the world. And I can order my weekly organic groceries via the internet and have them delivered free of charge to my door by courier. All in less than half a human lifetime. It’s a world of amazing and accelerating change!

And with all this amazing change, the individual referred to above has managed to ‘change to stay the same’. Yes, that’s right. For him to be able to stay locked in the past, in a world of massive change, he has to actively (though unconsciously) change to stay the same. It’s an incredible skill.

A change master!

Really, he is in some senses a change master!

The only thing is… he doesn’t realise that he has incredible skills at changing to stay the same. What’s more, he uses his unconscious competence in change mastery to stay locked in to a past that is no longer relevant. The truth is, where once he was a key player in the organisation, now he commands little respect. He is sidelined in a dead-end role and has spiralled down in self-respect. He is bored and is given no opportunities for change and advancement because he has made it obvious to management that he is not someone who embraces change and growth.

Yet, he is capable of making amazing changes in order to stay the same. It’s like an old guy I saw the other day in the centre of the City. He was a wizened little fellow in his 70’s, attired in an old suit, with his hair slicked back with hair-oil. Now, when I was a young child, back in the 1960’s, it was the fashion for men to use hair-oil to slick back their hair. It was the cool thing to do. This guy has continued to follow the same fashion and pattern for the last 50 or so years. Incredible! I didn’t even think you could buy hair-oil anymore. Think of the skill this old guy needs to be able to continue to source and use the same product for all those decades. All so he can stay the same.

Are you changing, evolving and moving forward?

You know, these are more than just funny stories. I use them to remind myself to keep changing, evolving and moving forward.

It's about ensuring you are leading the change! Rather than using your skills as a change master to stay stuck in the past, how about using them to break those chains and lead the changes that are happening in your world! Change is going to happen, so anticipate those changes by leading them. Whether it’s at work, in the clubs and organisations you are a member of, in your circle of friends or at home, continue to lead positive, generative and life enhancing change. And actively look for those areas where you are changing to stay the same and let them go. Change mastery! -- It’s an orientation and attitude that reaps many, many rewards and brings newness to your mind, life and spirit.

life enhancing smiles,


  1. Oh, Grant, this is such a good post! As someone who has often (in the past) said "I hate change," I can really appreciate it. Now, while still preserving traditions I love (of a past farther back than my own), I must embrace change. After all, it is inevitable. Well, except for people like Hair Oil Man!

  2. Hey Jean, thanks! You make an excellent point -- Embracing change mastery doesn't necessarily mean that you throw out all tradition. It's a fine balance between keeping what's life enhancing from the past, while being flexible enough to lead and embrace life enhancing change. We definitely don't want to become the equivalent of Hair Oil Man! LOL

    Thanks again for commenting, I really enjoy and appreciate your input into the blog.

    smiles, Grant

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