You Can’t Change Change

Someone asked me today to write about managing change. I know it’s a popular topic but when he said it, it sounded so absurd to me. Manage change? The very nature of change is that it’s unpredictable. I think he was questioning how to manage your reaction to change: what you do when change happens, rather than maintain the illusion that you are changing the direction of the change.

So, here’s my advice:

First, give up the illusion that you control the changes in the universe, or even your little corner of it. All you can control is your reaction to it. React with fear and it will feel like you’re in the middle of an ocean with huge waves of change crashing over you. Keep paddling toward home, toward the vision and values that guide you, and keep your eyes on their beacon. Things will calm down and yesterday’s change will be today’s acceptable reality.

Second, admit you are not the center of the universe any more. Yes, you were, at least in your mother’s eyes, for a few brief moments shortly after your birth. But humans are social animals and we are all in it together. Change doesn’t affect you and no one else. Take comfort in that and reach out to other people. They are your lifeboat in the maelstrom.

Third, listen to a political slogan on occasion. With thanks to President Obama, align yourself with others who care more about the big picture than the petty bits so together you can get some of that ‘change we need.’ Because we need change. Without change, there is no innovation, no technology, no new toys. And playing together means accepting that you need to share those new toys. Mom told you that, and it’s one thing that will never change.

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