“A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.”

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

Recently, OPreach stopped by for a visit to share words of wisdom. For any of you who follow her amazing blog, you will know she has a gift for inspiring reflection.  With one word, she gave me the topic of my next dialogue – benchmarks.

Over the years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with benchmarks.  I use them when I need them; I feel abused by them when they seem to go against me. One thing I am quite certain about – benchmarks rule our lives, from the cradle to grave.  An infant is measured against the height and weight standards, just as adults are placed in the recommended weight categories.  Individual math and literacy scores in grade school are comparable to the annual university ratings that determine the finest school to attend.  Cars, clothes, food and travel can not escape the benchmark trap.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
Anatole France

I have been reading and re-reading the comments to The Change Equation: The Beginning.  My deepest thanks goes to all those in our brilliant and discerning blogger community who joined the dialogue.  Your humour, joy and wisdom have added so much to this discussion and to my personal understanding. It appears that the change equation will have a series of iterations.

“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 was told to wipe the smile off my face, if I was going to be taken seriously.  The article was clear, to the point, complete with a set of instructions on how to tilt the chin, make eye contact and minimize the shrillness of my voice.  Beware of overusing the smile.  Leaders employ this technique with careful precision to diminish the likelihood of being taken as the junior assistant.  Too much smiling is hazardous for those climbing the social or corporate ladder. If I follow “leadership protocol” in my body language as prescribed by experts, I am certain to pass the networking gauntlet with flying colours.