Change happens. We can’t control much of the world changing around us. But we can control how we respond. We can choose to anticipate and make changes or resist them. Resisting change is usually like trying to push water upstream. Generally we’re quick to point to others who resist change. It’s much harder to recognize or admit to our own change resistance.
If the rate of external change exceeds our rate of internal growth, we’re eventually going to be changed. The “ghost of crisis yet to come,” similar to the third spirit that visited Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, is also as predictable. We often see a strong correlation between a leader’s rate of personal growth and skills at leading change to their overall leadership effectiveness ratings.
Too often a static person who hasn’t developed the habits of personal growth and continuous development, can become a statistic. He or she is caught and surprised by change.
We were meant to grow. Charles Darwin was the famous 19th century British naturalist who revolutionized the study of biology with his theory of evolution based on natural selection. His most renowned works include On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. One of his key research findings was that, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Some people call change progress and celebrate the improvements that it brings. Others curse those same changes and long for the good old days. Same changes, different responses. The choice is ours.
Searching for stability and predictability can be one way we resist change. Stability is when everything is settled. It’s when little new can happen to me. But that means there is no growth, no development, and no exciting new gains that might result from unexpected pains. Predictability and stability is the denial of life. It also means that the faster the world changes around me, the more likely I am to become a victim of the changes I am trying to deny.
Learning and personal growth is at the heart of an organization or individual’s ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. The key question is “does our rate of internal growth exceed the rate of external change?”