The Change Equation – The Beginning

“If I see any more signs on the walls of my workplace that tell me to be the change, I cannot be held accountable for what I may say.”

That came from a very good friend.  She’s intelligent, strong and full of cheerful humour. I knew exactly what she meant.  I want to be the change – my way – not at the whim of a business mantra that dictates the terms of change.  Brave words, but here is the situation: If our world is experiencing the strong winds of exponential change, we can be certain that we are being buffeted by those same air currents.  Words and phrases like productivity enhancements, strategic direction, and robust execution are bandied around as if we were dots on a graph, or a number in an equation.  And it was this line of thinking that gave me my “change” equation.  I was attending one of those embrace the new seminars, scribbling my notes on paper, when my pen stopped in mid-air, before landing on the paper to write, in bold strokes the equation:  N + t = Y.

 No + time = Yes

I knew that by the end of the seminar, the majority would be unhappy with the reorganization, but it wouldn’t be long before these same people would accept and happily acclimatize to a new environment. We will change, but we first say “no” to fresh ideas.  Even those amazing (and often annoying) souls, who seem to accept everything with cheerful gratitude, must undergo a series of decisions before plunging headlong into the unknown.

  • I met someone who refused to go on Facebook.  Within six months she was connecting with her family and friends.
  • A young person told me that she would never settle down, yet only a few months later she showed me her sparkling engagement ring.
  • A friend said he didn’t have money for a holiday and then booked an exotic vacation the very next week.

In each scenario, there was a definite NO which changed to YES with the passage of time.  Does the equation apply to the more difficult, painful and complex adjustments?

In the next couple of posts, I want to explore how time governs our behaviour and facilitates our search for balance and flexibility within our mercurial environment we call life.

“There is nothing permanent except change.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus –

 Famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe.

67 thoughts on “The Change Equation – The Beginning

  1. Change involves a personal evaluation between what we are willing to let go of from our past and what we are willing to accept for our present and future. We can become emotional hoarders – retaining old ways not because they are right – but, because we think we will lose an important part of who we are if we discard them. It’s good to know the important non-negotiable parts of who we are as individuals. Then change is a lot easier with a lot less unnecessary emotional baggage.

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  2. In my former career in IT, “change” usually meant “layoffs.” What it taught me was that as a worker, I had to make sure I had employable skills. And even then, it did not insulate me from a faceless reorg justified with the fashionable business buzz words of the day. So I always tried, to learn new things when the opportunities were there.

    In my life now, sometimes it seems a series of ceaseless attempts to adapt to, and prepare for, change (kids growing up, wife’s career, writing new stories, trying new things, etc.) while holding onto my own core as a person.

    @brb1966, I like that term “emotional hoarders.” It’s what keeps people from exploring and experimenting in life.

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    • Thank you for your insightful and thoughtful comments! In our economy, every industry is vulnerable, every job subject to extinction. The only certainty is change. The question then becomes, can we redefine our lives by our values, by our goals, by our needs. I think the answer lies in resilience – something that comes through clearly and distinctly in your words! You have given me food for thought! Thank you…

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  3. I’m impressed by all the above!!! About forty years ago I took Psychology 101. The outstanding professor said: “There are some people in this world who cannot change–they are in real trouble.” It seems to me that the word “change” has evolved into many meanings these days. I had to smile when I read recently: “Let’s change, you go first”. I believe there is a management book with almost the same title.

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    • What a great title – it speaks to our reality. Have your ever noticed that when anyone talks about change most times, we use the royal “we.” “We” usually means “you first.” Thanks for your insight.

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  4. I have learned by bitter experience to never say never. When ever I am vehement about not doing something, it seems I am doomed to experience it. Perhaps our fears draw forth the very things we wish to avoid? Change becomes less challenging the more we experience it, a sort of exposure therapy?

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  5. Change is difficult for everyone. But I agree with your formula. I might add P for patience in there as well. That’s what helps us wait for others to change.

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  6. There is a ancient Chinese book just talk about Change, it is called the IChing. It says that the Change, is to achieve the balance. Balance in life, in environment, in our own character, and the balance between all elements that we are interacting with. So when we see the change, it is about finding a balance, like the dance in the ballet.

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    • Thank you for your thoughts on balance and for your analogy to ballet. The dancer is always moving to keep balance – even when appearing to stand in one place. IChing – the ancients experienced change – we can learn from them. You have given me a new research project!!!

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  7. Interesting topic. I enjoyed that you formed an equation. I have been reading a book at the moment called “The Calculus Diaries: a year discovering how maths can help you, lose weight, win in vegas and survive a zombie apocalypse” by Jennifer Ouellette, in which(as alluded to in the title) calculus can help explain all manner of situations. Would the inverse be true also, Y + t = N? As in: yes of course I can stay back at work every night in order to meet deadlines and to ensure you(manager/supervisor) get your production bonuses. But upon reflection you realise that this trade off, your free time vs slight increase in money, isn’t in your best interests.

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    • Thanks for the recommendation – I have ordered “The Calculus Diaries” through my most favourite haunt, The Vancouver Public Library. I have been concerned about the zombie apocalypse – now I won’t need to worry. You are right about the opposite equation!! Brilliant!!!

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  8. Your post has made me think about my own reaction to change, and how that’s changing. I used to get to “yes” a lot quicker, but these days more time is needed in the equation. When it comes to work, that’s probably because I’ve seen so many changes that quickly get overturned, reeking of ‘flavour of the month.’ I’ve been dodging that pendulum swinging in both directions, and what’s been around coming back around. In other words, after a lengthy career, there’s not a lot that’s truly new. Yet, each change at the time was implemented for a specific purpose and in response to an ever-changing environment. I certainly wouldn’t want to work in an environment where nothing changed!

    From a personal perspective, I’m probably a little more cautious about change these days because let’s face it, approaching the end of career stage I don’t have as much time to recover if things go wrong. I”m contemplating a major life change right now, retiring from a long-term career and moving on to labours of love, but it’s a big decision with lots of factors to consider. Eventually, I will get to yes, but when? Looking forward to your next posts on this topic.

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    • You are in the very best time of life – transition. A time when you must redefine who you are so that you can move forward. While this may be easy for some, for others, like myself, it was a process of internal awakening, of recognizing that time is finite and that the present was my only reality. I read “Composing a Further Life” by Mary Catherine Bateson (daughter of Margaret Mead). A great read about stages. I especially like her thought – “Of any stopping place in life, it is good to ask whether it will be a good place from which to go on as well as a good place to remain.” I look forward to our ongoing dialogue. Life just keeps on getting more interesting…

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    • I can relate to your statement “I use to get to ‘yes’ a lot quicker…” – I have learned that when I am being asked to embrace change it really means that there will be some sacrifice required on my part. What am I willing to sacrifice? The older I get the less willing I am to sacrifice for someone else’s vision for change. Change can be fickle.

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  9. I enjoyed your words on change. and I must say, the comments to you I just finished reading were just as enjoyable. Change, for me, is what happens and I suppose I just embrace it -although sometimes grudgingly. Not a fan of what phrases like your friends, I suppose I’ll just keep on rolling with the punches.
    (hmm..another of those phrases that is suppose to have meaning)
    Still, I did enjoy what you had to say. thanks

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    • Thank you so much for stopping by…you have given me food for thought. I have done a lot of “grudging” over the years. That is why I’m so interested in the variables that go into the thought process of getting from point A to point B. While I think that we have unique ways of responding, humanity, overall, has an extraordinary way of building resilience and hope. “Rolling with the punches…” is really about embracing that hope and living courageously!!! I look forward to our ongoing dialogue.

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  10. Thanks for the post. Change is a challenge because we all cling to what we know because to let go is so scary. Being in the moment, accepting it and it’s challenges is easier said than done but I believe it’s the only way to learn to live… Regards Leanne

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  11. Change … .the willingness to leave your chair and cross a turbulent creek to get to another chair.

    BTW – Thanks for peeking into my celebration party. Come on in and introduce yourself!

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  12. I really love this post. Being the change is always something that has frustrated me. Not necessarily in a professional sense, but definitely in a personal one. Being the change I wish to see in myself. I’m kind of stripping that N + t = Y from it’s context, because I really love it. I found comfortable change came after a strong investment of time. Basically, my previous 12 hour work day meant there was a ‘no’ to the first two factors. It really is amazing the effect a bit of time has on attitudes to change. Can’t wait to read more. I have found this post extremely insightful!

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    • Thank you for your insightful and thought-provoking comments. I have learned so much from the comments made by fellow bloggers! We learn together when we share ideas and experiences. So glad that we connected!!!

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  13. This is a quite nice post which applies to many situations of my life. I found a suitable quotation for this of John Archibald Wheeler:
    Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.

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    • A most excellent quote!!! And one that is applicable to the equation. While yes and no seem to be opposing forces, perhaps time can make the connection… Thank you for sharing your insight!

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  14. Good equation! I have found it interesting how different people require a different amount of Time for the change to take place for them….some get lost in the change and therefore change jobs, spouses, lifestyles etc. Embedding ICTs in teaching is a big current change and it really has been difficult for some teachers. I often personally take the view of trying NOT to say “No” and instead say, “OK, let’s see where this goes” and that minimizes the sometimes painful Time part of the equation.

    I’m happy I found your blog, your posts are interesting. Thanks for noticing my little blog. 🙂

    Elke

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    • Well said, “OK, let’s see where this goes…” I agree with your comment on the different amount of time that is required to re-frame the question, the direction or the thought pattern. In my personal experience, I find myself in a loop that just seems to redefine the issue, rather than look for alternatives. I am so glad that we connected – there are a lot of exciting adventures in learning…

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  15. I love the equation! Interesting topic and I like the way you handled it. It is a good thing that with time we accept the change otherwise there would be a lot of unhappy people, if we all understood this equation we could prevent ourselves all the stress by reducing the time it takes for us to change the ‘no’ to ‘yes’.

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    • Ahh, that elusive emotion – happiness. You have given me another addition to the equation. Thank you for adding to the dialogue – you have given me something to think about.

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    • Dear friend – you are too kind!!! Stay turned for my blog post. Your encouragement, thoughtfulness and generosity has been there since I first started blogging. You welcomed me to the community of bloggers.

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    • I have learned so much from the comments – I’m in the process of synthesizing my learning. We have an amazing and creative blogger community. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your thoughts…

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  16. Hi my friend – most interesting post. I would want to ask for whose benefit are the majority of changes made? Who are the drivers of societal change? I would suggest that much of the social evolution I’ve witnessed in recent times has been to the advantage of the few over the many. What do you think?
    Regards, Dave

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    • Very good question!! Who are the drivers of societal change? I have always been a firm believer in the power of ordinary citizens to bring about change. Even the powerful, over time (there’s that variable again), cannot withstand those dramatic forces. You have give me a great idea for a post!!! Thank you so much for stopping by….

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      • My pleasure my friend. The challenge for the many is to become conscious of that potential power, connect with others and mobilize that energy.
        That’s why it’s important to share ideas and words like this 🙂

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