NOT YET – and not NO – is your largest enemy

I have frequently written about change. Change sucks because its difficult to get out of our comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable that comfort zone may be. We sometimes simply change at a superficial level when what is really needed is a Change of Heart. And what we are most scared of is not the final destination but the ensuing chaos as soon as change happens – something that Stockholm experienced as it moved to the right on September 3, 1967.

We are typically convinced that change ultimately leads to something good. If only, we can take and sustain the plunge that leads us to the promised land.

What is most difficult is to take that plunge. And once we do, it’s equally difficult to sustain the plunge in the immediate chaos that follows. Most of us either don’t start at the first hurdle, or fall back at the second.

Lets focus on the first hurdle – not taking the plunge for the fear of what may follow, despite knowing that the promised destination is what we want (and sometimes what we need).

Seth Godin is a fantastic writer, speaker and thinker on entrepreneurship and building communities. His model of tribes for communities is simply awesome, and the book a must read for any leader.

Godin said of this fear of taking plunge, and the core motivation behind it, brilliantly in his Tribes book:

The largest enemy of change and leadership isn’t a “no.” It’s a “not yet.” “Not yet” is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. “Not yet” gives the status quo a chance to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a little while longer. Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.

And he goes on to say about the reasons of not doing and the fear of chaos …

“It’s not time,” “Take it easy,” “Wait and see,” “It’s someone else’s turn” – none of these stalls are appropriate for a leader in search of change. There’s a small price for being too early, but a huge penalty for being too late.”

And then he also gave  probably the world’s simplest yet most powerful relationship to illustrate what the literati would dub as “strike the iron while it’s hot”

Image

Change always has a context – an optimal window. It’s not abstract, timeless or an invariant. It is a function of time, environment and opportunity.

Success equals to grabbing the opportunity of change at the right time and taking the plunge through chaos. A wait for certainty is a wait forever.

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The Day Stockholm Moved to the Right Side

This is an image from Stockholm, Sweden on September 3, 1967. That was the day when Sweden changed from driving on the left side of the road to the right side.

Sweden1967_02_1500-700x412Naturally, there was chaos.

A few posts back, I wrote about change, and why it sucks. No matter how necessary or beneficial a change may be, it is natural human tendency to resist it. We hate the transition associated with change. Going from a current status quo to a new status quo is always accompanied by Chaos and then persistence to implement itChaos scares us – partly because it is uncomfortable; partly because we think of Chaos as the actual change and run back to the safety of our old status quo.

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Change Sucks!

Change is hard. It’s difficult. It sucks!

Well, it’s not really that hard.  It’s hard because of how we deal with the change.

We hate change. We detest it. We resist it. We procrastinate. We put it off. We do whatever we can to avoid it. We make a herculean effort to avoid the potentially small effort required to make the change.

That is how we are hardwired. If our current state has some sort of equilibrium, a sense of sanity and acceptance of where we are, we would resist change. Even a change that is for better.

Why?

It is not because we do not like to make things better. We all like to be richer, happier and more satisfied.

It’s the process of change that we hate.

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