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).
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”
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.