I used to have quite an impossible view of change. I looked at change as something which came into my world unexpectedly every now and then and very nearly always viewed the effects of change as a negative influence, something to fear or dread.
I had a long-held view that one day, all major change would cease, minor change would become completely manageable and my world would become perfect. I wanted a comfortable life, an unchanging life where I knew what to expect at every turn. I believed in that life and I believed I would one day have that life. Everything would finally be settled and life would be grand.
I tended to look upon change as something of an interloper, the uninvited guest of inconvenience. Change, of course, would happen. It would show up because of bad luck, because of something I did or didn’t do, or because God was punishing me or trying to teach me some kind of lesson.
Like ripples in a pond from a stone dropped into still waters, change to me looked like something from out of nowhere which upset the balance in my life. Then, like ripples, the effects would slowly dampen and dissipate followed by a placid calm. I would think, that had to be it. Now, everything would be fine.
This may very well describe the action of still waters in a pond after plopping in a stone but it has no application to the realities of life and change. It was all self-delusion. My life was never like that. No life is. My waters were never calm, change never came out of nowhere, my life was never in balance and calm would never follow on after.
Over the years life has challenged my outlook concerning change and it, too, has changed. It was inevitable. I began listening to and learning from the best teacher I know – time. Time has taught me change is more like the waves on the ocean and not at all like ripples in a pond.
Like waves on the ocean, change will ebb and flow but it will never cease. As one wave passes, rest assured the next one will be right behind. It may be smaller, it may be larger, it may come a little faster or a little slower, never exactly the same, but always continuing. Waves may all be different, but their ever presence makes them reliably predictable. Waves will come. Change is just like that.
Life got easier for me when I realized change was more like the ocean’s waves. I came to expect change rather than being surprised and disappointed when it arrived. Rather than rail against it, I have come to embrace change for what it can do for me if I choose, rather than be swept away by it.
“You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler.” ~ Denis Waitley
The power of change can be bent for a purpose. Ask a surfer where all of the action begins. It is always at the peak of the next wave, never in the trough. No surfer has ever suggested, “Hey, let’s go catch some troughs.” A wave to a surfer means opportunity, however, difficult it may be to manage. You can’t just wait sitting on your board in the water either. The waves will either roll on by you or crash down on top of you.
If you think this has no application in business, think again. Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying, “All of the action is on the next wave.” At the top of one wave he was already scanning the horizon for the next. He knew they were out there. He knew they could not be stopped. He wanted to make sure he caught it. He was making change his ally even as he was making history.
Don’t dread or hate or fear change. It is inevitable. Expect it. Look for ways to embrace it, to use it, to shape your destiny with it. Ride it like a wave until the next one comes along. But, don’t wait for it. Swim out to meet it.
Originally Published on Clark Gaither
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