We are all familiar with the idea that change is the only constant, but that does not always help us to be better at it. This applies to us as individuals, as businesses and as communities and nations.
Change is inevitable, therefore our only choice is how we work with it. How often do we have the courage, skill and wisdom to be ahead of the curve and how often do we find ourselves on the wrong side of history?
There are essentially two types of change:
- Attraction based change – where we see a better future and pursue it.
- Crisis based change – where some disaster befalls us and we have to change.
Attraction based change is often thought of as risky, it requires courage to let go of something that is still working to pursue a new dream. And letting go is critical, we cannot create something new without also creating the space for it to exist. We have to have the courage to creatively destroy what we have, to create what we must. However courage alone runs the risk of recklessness. Alongside courage we need to also apply the wisdom to ensure that we are doing the right things and the skills to ensure that we are doing things right.
All of this attraction based change may seem pretty challenging, but the key fact about change is that if we fail to apply attraction based change then we automatically and inevitably get the alternative – crisis based change.
We are probably all familiar with crisis based change, where events overtake us and we loose flexibility of choice. Whatever the situation – whether it is in a relationship, a corporation or a system of government in a country. If we don’t have the courage, wisdom and skill to make the attraction based change then we will get the crisis based change anyway.
We WILL get the crisis based change anyway.
We can all pretend, like King Canute, (Cnut in Norse) that we can hold back the tide, but the reality is that we cannot. In crisis we are often limited to the choice between transcending the crisis or succumbing to it. Again whether it is at an individual, organisational or national level, we can choose to learn what the crisis has to teach us and transcend it or we can fail to learn, in which case we will either succumb right away and pass to irrelevance or we will continue to face further crises until we learn what we need to learn.
To avoid the crisis we need the the sensitivity to detect the signs and the humility to listen to them. The early signs are often subtle, vague and difficult to quantify or prove. This can make it extremely difficult to persuade those who believe that they are succeeding with their current trajectory. However we always have to remember that it can be hard to tell the difference between flying and falling until it is too late.
This will be my last message of 2012. Our New Year tradition is to draw a picture of how we want the new year to turn out. We take out paper and colouring pens and draw images with captions to represent all we hope to create, change and be in the coming year. This is our opportunity to articulate and envision the changes we are attracted to and to commit ourselves to a trajectory that takes us towards them.
We will be making our drawings again this year and ours will include moving back to England. We have had a wonderful five and a half years in Mallorca, but now it is time to return. There are many reasons, but by far the largest is that my work takes me away from the family too often. I love my work and I love my family and I want to combine both as much as possible and the only way to do that is to be in England.
I am tremendously proud of the work that I do and I feel enormously privileged and honoured to be able to do it. In 2001 I set out with a vision that authentic business and authentic leadership were the path to widespread sustainability and fulfilment. I had a mission to take this message to the corporations which at that time appeared to be behaving in a way that was inauthentic, unsustainable and only enriched an elite few. I had a purpose to play my own small part in healing the world through authenticity.
There is a very, very long way to go in healing the world and in achieving widespread sustainability and fulfilment, but I am proud to say that I am one of a growing band of people who are pursuing authenticity in corporations, which are doing it with wisdom, skill and courage. And I still believe that corporations are a key lever of broader social change and that widespread sustainability and fulfilment are possible.
Whatever you choose to celebrate this season; Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Solstice, Saturnalia, Yule or family and friends, or all of them, I hope that it is filled with love, peace and goodwill.
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