Change surprises all of us now and then

Most people hold two mutually exclusive ideas about change.

The first idea is that change is hard and takes initiative and effort and possibly discipline to bring about. Often, this is the idea that springs to mind when we think about organizational change or political change. It holds within it the seed of the idea that change, at least some change, makes logical sense and is brought about by holding on to the intention for things to change and following through on a plan to make change happen.

The other idea is that change sneaks up on us. We watch for it, maybe even build some walls around it to keep it contained. But it doesn't matter. One day we wake up, and change has already happened. We are not sure exactly when or how. We are only sure that it has stopped being a matter of choice and become a matter of accepting and adapting. This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper (T. S. Eliot). We expect that big change should be announced with a big fanfare. But often, it sneaks in the back door and squats. By the time we notice, it's living with us.

This really leaves us with two choices. One is to pretend that change is not squatting in the middle of the room: to walk around it as if it weren't there at all. The other is to figure out what to do now change has happened. We can howl our resistance, but even that is doing something. Mostly, we howl a little and then reimagine our alternatives. Our lives are not what they were, but we are still in the same skin, looking at the world through eyes that may not be happy about what they are seeing, but eyes that are still seeing nonetheless. We get to choose what will come next.

Some people will choose to adjust themselves to the change, to realign and reframe and reassess goals and relationships in light of what is the new status quo. Others will choose to push for further change - to replace the change that surprised them with a change they have strategized. Either way, change requires that we manage our state of mind and body. Change requires that we notice what we are thinking and feeling and ask ourselves, sometimes for the first time in a long time, what the best we can hope for now is.

Spring is a season of sneaky changes. It's sunny and warm one day and snowing the next. We know generally which way the world is heading, but at any moment our expectations may be challenged. Things change in the spring.

Take a deep breath. Notice what is different. Ask yourself: What's the best I can hope for now?

Then find the resources to bring the best into being.


What a wonderful insight about change. You're right about the wrong notions on change. If someone is willing to change his/her ways, the only thing that can stop them is their negative thoughts. Change can be truly achieved by a person's willingness, dedication and an open heart.

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