Reflections on Change

“Change or die” — we are told. “The only thing that’s certain is change itself.” “Learn to accept change,” “embrace change” etc. How much can we influence our ability to cope with change? How much can we change? 

I remember one puzzling moment in Werner Herzog’s wonderful movie Encounters at the End of the World… One of the characters, a mid-aged lad, hasn’t got particularly much to say when interviewed by the narrator. We learn, however, that he is always prepared to hit the road. Working here and there, he has his things (stuck in a backpack) ready for an instant takeoff. Is this the ideal of a change-adapted person? While discussing the movie, my father-in-law said, that it was exactly the opposite. “Running away” (as in the case of Herzog’s character) was not a good sign of one’s ability to adapt. But then… how’s change vs. adaptation?

When working on personal change or inducing organizational change, do we hope to make people adapt to the new situation? Or would we rather want them to “become the change,” to change themselves, and not just simply adapt?

With every new year on my back I’m less prone to believe in induced change, esp. organizational initiatives aiming to shift an entity from point A to point B (“culture eats strategy for breakfast,” after all). I believe, however, in an individual’s repeated activities. I believe in routine. Routine makes a craftsman out of a layman and an Olympian out of an average sportsman.