“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange…Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” Those lyrics come from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite British rockers David Bowie. It’s one thing to sing along about change, but people are hard-wired not to like changes. Change is a big part of life, as is our ability to adapt to change.
How we deal with change is completely personal. Some people shut out the world and cocoon themselves for a time. Some people get angry and rail against the change agent. Some people cry. Some people set their jaws, square their shoulders, and brace themselves to meet the change head on. Some throw open their arms and greet the change like a sunrise.
If there is anything we can count on in this life, it is change. Many great leaders talk about change – either handing it or creating it. Author Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” That statement rings true. Sometimes to embrace change, we must change. Sometimes to create changes, we must start with ourselves. I just discovered this quotation by the Persian poet Rumi, who was born more than 800 years ago in 1207, but whose philosophy speaks even more truth today (and echoes Tolstoy’s statement): “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
One of the most often quoted world changers, one people believe so significant that I often see it the signature line of people’s email, is Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I understand why people feel a kinship to Gandhi and this philosophy. The premise is that if we want change, we must embody that change. Genius Albert Einstein said something very similar, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” I appreciate how Einstein put the responsibility for change on our shoulders – to first change how we think, then to change the world. We can wait for the waves (of change) to crash over our heads, or we can ride the waves to something better.
Change is inevitable. Changes aren’t easy for anyone; even positive changes present their own challenges. Not everyone perceives change in the same way; what is positive for one can be negative for another. What we know is that we can control how we handle change, both changes that are introduced to us and changes that we instigate. People who know me would say that I like change. In fact, when I interviewed for the job here at the Chamber, I said that they shouldn’t hire me if they didn’t want change (thankfully, they did). However, while I handle changes that are my idea or that I implement very well, I can sometimes have difficulty with changes that are thrust upon me, which is an opportunity for personal growth.
To complete this article about change, I will end with a quotation from advertising mogul Rob Siltanen of Siltanen & Partners of Los Angeles, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”