Archive for December, 2010

A Life of No Change

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

I was listening to an interesting talk today and basically the expert was saying that if we went back just 300 years, our ancestors were all living lives that basically never knew change.  You would expect to die in the same place you were born, follow your fathers footsteps and do his job in the same way as he did it before you.  We are sometimes overwhelmed by the pace of change in our lives but the alternative of living with no change at all seems equally unthinkable to us.  So it isn’t change itself that we don’t like, it is not feeling in control of it, and not having any choices in the matter.  Having been snowed in twice this year, I’m very familiar with the frustration of not being able to go somewhere different, of having my choices removed.

Managing Change is about getting the balance right, and about enabling people to chose what works best for them, ignore these simple truths at your peril!

We all walk a singular path…

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I think that one of the most profound lessons I have learnt over the last 9 months since Carys’s passing has been that when you lose someone that each person experiences and processes that loss very differently.  I am aware that setting it down like this it seems a statement of the obvious (and perhaps it is.)  However, when a family loses a member you tend to assume that you are all on a somewhat similar path and timetable.  This could not be more wrong.  Last night my daughter had a very difficult time of it and broke down. It is now even more clear to me that my children are on a very different timetable to me.  Of course some of this is simply a feature of the different relationship we had with her, and some of it is down to our differing characters, experience etc. 

I can see that for all we have achieved in this period, there is still a huge distance to travel.  I know that we all have our own  interpretation of reality, but this aspect of it is singularly challenging. It serves to reinforce the fact that whenever we fail to find out where the other person starts their journey from, we are likely meet with some level of miscommunication.  I feel that I must be failing to get over the significance of this discovery, as this seems to read like something we should all know already, and yet I have never heard it before.

The other feature of last night was the realisation that when you scratch the surface of the new ‘paint’ that we have applied, it is clear just how much damage is still present beneath the surface.  I send out my thoughts and prayers to you others who are on this painful path too…

“Grief is perhaps an unknown territory for you. You might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a “map” for the journey. Confusion is the hallmark of a transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project.”   Anne Grant

Learning from others

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

You may recall the troop of Japanese macaques who learnt that they could separate rice from sand by throwing it in the water (the rice floats and the sand sinks.)  This trick is now used by all the monkeys in the troop.  It works better, so they do it.  Our cats have discovered that they can pull down the towels we leave over the radiators and make a snug little pussy nest under the radiators.  One cat figured it out, now no towel is safe from their urge to be comfy. 

The reason I raise these obscure and possibly unimportant factlets is that  when someone works out a better way to do something, our reaction tends to be to mock them, to ask why they are not confirming, to wonder ‘who they think they are?’ etc.  Companies try to get workers to share best practice, but we resist, at least in the West (the Japanese are much better at it.)  It might be just another facet of change averseness, but as our cats and the macaques can attest, Life is more rewarding if we are prepared to learn from others…

“Life will teach you the lessons, it is up to you to learn them”


Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The Boy Scouts motto is “Be Prepared” and certainly we are always being encouraged to to ensure that we are ready for the various things Life and business can throw at us.  However, as this year has shown my family so well, you can’t prepare for every eventuality.

I’m sitting here, housebound once more, looking out at the November snow that is causing chaos here, after the coldest November weather for decades.  Despite a serious dose of snow in January it seems that we are no better off this time round.  Many people are complaining about the poor preparation and they may well be right, but I wonder if there isn’t a different question.  Preparation is a good tool for staying in control, but unpopular as it maybe, the truth is that we can never control everything so we need to be able to accept that which we can not control.  Sometimes you need to be able to stay home and just accept that you can not get where you wanted to go.  The ability to adapt to what is happening and modify your plans and make that work for you is one key to successful Change.  We have to be able to adapt our plans and sometimes adjust our targets too.  It is unfashionable to say this, but it is just as important to be able to adapt to circumstances as it is to hit our targets.   Staying fixed on the wrong target is just as bad as not having one.

The prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr works as well for Corporate leaders as it does for those of us whose plans have been hit by this weather or perhaps worse things….

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”