Yes, I’m absolutely irate about change. This is not an essay on my displeasure and despair with continuous change. Well, perhaps it is somewhat, just probably not in the way you think it is. I’m currently facilitating an organizational initiative of massive proportion—an organizational transition from a waterfall to agile software development methodology framework. Not only is this a tactical change in the way we work, it is a tectonic shift in operational philosophy. Seemingly everything about the way individuals have worked is being challenged. This is a good thing. When we become entirely accepting in the way we do things, complacency grows which leads to the death of continuous improvement and creativity.
This particular change initiative has been helped by the fact that it was initiated and supported from the top down. However, that is not enough to ensure its success. So, why am I irate? Because of the failure of individuals to realize that, ultimately, successful change and improvement only occur at the individual level. Societies improve only when their people improve. Similarly, marriages improve when husbands and wives improve; families improve when family members improve; and, organizations improve when employees improve. Over and over again I hear individuals complain about the way things are. What do they do about it? NOTHING! Could it be because, at lease on some level, we are happy being miserable? After all, what would we complain about if we took action to make things better?
So many individuals, including me, simply become complacent about improvement and personal change. Several situations over the last few years (self-induced, by the way) have forced me to personally transform, which brings me to another realization—that change usually occurs only at one of the following two moments:
- When the cost (or pain) of not changing is greater than that of changing; and,
- When it’s virtually too late to affect the outcome.
For example, extra diligence and effort is expended on our projects when they’ve almost burned to the ground. We become motivated to put time and effort into our marriages and relationships when they’re falling apart. We suddenly become inspired to lose weight, eat better, and exercise when we are diagnosed with diabetes. We become serious about quitting smoking when we receive the news that we’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Pitiful!
Significant and grand things are accomplished when we strive to do just a little bit more. Very small incremental actions add up to incredible accomplishments and achievements. I place emphasis on the word actions because that’s what it takes—action, not passivity. Contrary to what you might read in books like The Secret, things will not get better or come your way simply by thinking positively. Thought can shape attitude, but actions and behaviors drive change and improvement.
Do your part to make a difference and model the phrase “If it is to be, it is up to me.” You are responsible for the way things are in your life. When it comes to change and becoming more successful, you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great. The only change that matters begins with you.
Here’s a video to give you a kick in the pants to get started. Don’t watch it if you aren’t prepared to take personal ownership and responsibility.