Thriving in an Era of Constant Change
“Why do we keep expecting the world to stabilize?”
- Abraham Maslow, noted humanistic psychologist:
1. We all have habits in all areas of our lives, including our relationships, livelihood, finances, eating, even our spirituality. These habits are attempts to freeze the world, to reduce anxiety, and even avoid pain. In fact, the world is in perpetual flux. Nothing in the world is static. It would seem reasonable that we would base our theories and philosophies of science and common sense squarely on this basic and unavoidable fact. Even though we accept this fact intellectually, it is rarely done emotionally and with enthusiasm. We are still deeply Newtonian.
2. Learned reactions, merely by existing, block the formation of other learned reactions to the same problem. Because learned habits are not simply logical or neutral and easily unlearned, by learning we have to some degree committed ourselves and our loyalties. As a Spanish proverb says, Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.
3. Habits are good for problems that are seemingly repetitive, familiar, and relatively unchanging, and they enable us to have energy for the so-called higher problems. But a contradiction is involved. In actual fact, the world is not static, familiar, repetitive, and unchanging. Instead, it is constantly in flux, ever new, always developing into something else, shifting, and changing. It must therefore be granted however useful habits may be for the seemingly constant aspects of the world, they are positively a hindrance and an impediment when we have to deal with the changing, fluctuating aspects of the world with problems that are unique, novel, never before dealt with.
Here then, Maslow says, we have the paradox. Habits are simultaneously necessary and dangerous — useful and harmful. They undoubtedly save us time, effort, and thought, but at a big expense. They tend to replace, in a lazy way, true and fresh attending, perceiving, learning, and thinking.
Disabling Our Ability to Thrive. So when we think about it, we acknowledge change is constant, but on a daily basis we act as if we expect things to be or become static, to calm down. I suggest most of us do that in every area of our life, at great cost, including our:
- Health — Diet, Exercise, Rest
- Mental Development and Learning
This affects our ability to thrive in constant change, because we allow our habits and unchecked, unconscious expectations of a static world to dictate how we react or respond to that change. Let me give you some examples, probing questions, and suggestions about what to do about this.
Whether we realize it or not, businesses and the economy are in a state of Perpetual Transformation — good or bad. If you are not also perpetually transforming, you will surely be out of sync with what is needed to be successful.
- Change Reaction. Is your first reaction to change to hunker down or look for opportunities?
- Realities About Leaders. If you accept the reality that leaders don’t understand or know or care nearly as much as you think they should, what do you think you should do about it?
- Earning Respect. Have you determined what you want leaders or customers saying about you and what you need to do to cause them to say it?
- Follow the Money. Have you discerned how money is distributed within your company or industry (hot solutions, projects, clients, etc) and how to get noticed by the distributors?
- Active Value. Have you established active relationships with all key leaders or clients and discussed your ideas for adding more value and ask for their advice on the same? The more value you offer, the more face time you tend to get, and this creates a cycle of you being able to increase their satisfaction levels with your work.
How much of your energy goes into creatively exploring what you can do to get more of what you want? Do you seek out, talk with, and observe the people who are successful in getting management time. What do they do? What could you do?
Combinations of performing, marketing yourself, planning to do more of the work you love, and educating yourself toward that end are more likely to increase your effectiveness than is any approach taken alone.
“To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun? — Katherine Graham
- Are you in integrity with yourself?
- Are you in integrity with your family members and loved ones?
- Are you in integrity with your friends?
- Are you in integrity with the communities in which you are involved?
- Are you in integrity with those with whom you work?
- Are you in integrity with God?
- Do you consciously choose friendships that are mutually nurturing and supportive and enjoyable?
- Do you continuously seek to forgive those against which you hold resentments?
- Do you consciously seek to expand your love of others, especially those close to you?
- Do you actively seek to repair damaged relationships with loved ones, taking full responsibility for doing so?
- Are all your primary relationships in good shape?
- Are you having a good deal of fun and joy in your relationships?
“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out”. - James Baldwin
- Do you know your weak points when it comes to your attitudes and behaviors about money?
- Are you consciously working to improve those attitudes and behaviors, so they work for your rather than against you?
- Do you have a financial plan?
- Are you working within that plan?
- Do you have a clear, current understanding of you assets and liabilities?
- Are your bank accounts, investments, mortgages, debt, etc current and in good order? If not, do you have a plan for getting them in good order?
- Do you have a financial advisor or mentor, to whom you can turn to for trusted advice and support?
- If you are married, do you have any outstanding financial disagreements with your spouse that need to be resolved? If yes, when and how do you plan to resolve them?
“Roadblocks to becoming financially independent: Fear, cynicism, laziness, bad habits, arrogance.” - Robert Kiyosaki
Health — Diet and Exercise
- Are you disciplined about what you eat and how you take care of your body?
- Do you have a health plan and goals?
- Do you have a coach or support partner to help guide you and stick to your plan?
- Do you pay attention to what your body is telling you and continue to look for and adopt approaches that work for you?
- Do you understand what foods work better for you and your body type?
- Do you understand how your eating and exercise habits affect your physical health, and how that health in turn affects your mental and emotional state — daily and long term?
- Do you care?
“I know of no subject more confused, emotionally charged, and important in our lives than food and nutrition and their influence on our well-being.”
— Dr. Andrew Weil
- When is the last time you challenged your own beliefs about God and your spiritual nature? Had an open discussion with someone and consciously decided to shift your beliefs or understanding? Had a revelation and shared differences in what you now believe versus what you used to believe?
- Do you think you completely understand God? If so, why have you not ascended?
- Do you continue to seek to expand and evolve your understanding of all things spiritual? If not, why not?
- Is your life in balance from a spiritual perspective? In other words, do you consciously involve God and your spiritual self in you job, relationships, finances, health, and overall growth?
Are You Acting Like a Victim? (Block)
- Victims do not want to take responsibility. Power is what victims want.
- Victims believe that others hold the answer to their helplessness. If they were just given more power, or if our behavior would change in some way, then they would begin to take responsibility.
- In this way victims profess the belief that the people on top not only do hold all the marbles, but that they should hold all the marbles.
- Victims are strong believers in patriarchy, they are just angry that they are not the patriarchs.
- Victims do not want a change in the governance system, they just want a change in who governs.
- It is easy to be seduced by a victim’s plea for more power, because the redistribution of power is one of the goals of stewardship.
- The difference is that stewardship wants to redistribute power so that responsibility is taken and service is delivered, not as a persuasive device to get people to join the program.
Thinking like a victim, by definition, gives your power away.
Mental Development and Learning
- Every cell in your body is replaced every 12–24 months. Are your knowledge, skills, and attitudes keeping pace?
- “The way you look at the situation — how you mentally frame it and the conclusions you reach — determines how you react to change.” (Price Pritchard)
- Do you realize you are a free agent? Do you think and act like one?
- Free agents are essentially (or should be) free agent learners — independent, highly motivated adults who take responsibility for their own learning and development, use their spare time to learn, use new approaches to learning, and self-teach using a variety of resources.
- Free agent learners take the initiative by organizing and structuring their own learning experiences and by seeking the best opportunities for learning and growth, and for applying that learning.
“Learning is defined as a change in behavior. You haven’t learned a thing until you take action and use it.” - Tommy Lasorda and Ken Blanchard
An Integrated, Balanced Approach
- Do you periodically review and make plans for improving all the important areas of your life?
- Do you consciously work to keep the areas of your life balanced and working well for you?
- Do you understand the interdependent relationships that exist between the major facets of your life?
- Do you have a growth support partner or coach or mentor, either for specific areas of your life or overall, to help you overcome difficulties or achieve goals.
- Have you reflected on and identified the philosophies or beliefs that perhaps unconsciously guide your planned or unplanned decision making?
- Have you recently validated those beliefs based on your current understanding of life?
“Because they involve ongoing verification and evaluation, judgments based on reflective thinking are more likely to be valid and insightful than are beliefs derived from authority, emotional commitment, or narrow reasoning.” - John Dewey
References and Resources
- “Working with Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman
- “Getting Things Done When You are Not In Charge” by Geoffery Bellman
- “Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self Interest“ by Peter Block
- “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow” by Marsha Sinetar
- “Zen and the Art of Making a Living” by Laurence Boldt
- “Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life” by Gregg Levov
- “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson
- “People Power: 12 Power Principles to Enrich Your Business, Career, and Personal Networks” by Donna Fisher
- “Integrity“ by Stephen L. Carter
- “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
- “Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
- “Don’t Worry, Make Money” by Richard Carlson
- “Beating the Street” by Peter Lynch
Health — Diet, Exercise, Rest, and Relaxation
- “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” by Dr. Deepak Chopra
- “Eat Right for Your Type” by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo
- “Eating Well for Optimum Health” by Dr. Andrew Weil
- “Healing and the Mind” by Bill Moyers
- “Radical Healing: Integrating the World’s Great Therapeutic Traditions to Create a New Transformative Medicine” by Dr. Rudolf Ballentine
- “Putting on the Mind of Christ: The Inner Work of Christian Spirituality“ by Jim Marion
- “The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose” by Dan Millman
- “Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing” by Caroline Myss
- “Learn to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment” by David Fontana
- “A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” by Karen Armstrong
Mental Development and Learning
- “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
- “The Artist’s Way” and “The Artist’s Way at Work” by Julia Cameron
- “Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide” by Gillian Butler and Tony Hope
- “Integrative Life Planning. Critical Tasks for Career Development and Changing Life Patterns” by L. Sunny Hansen
- “Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life” by Deng Ming-Dao
- “Manifest Your Destiny” by Wayne Dyer
- “Making a Life, Making a Living: Reclaiming Your Purpose and Passion in Business and in Life” by Mark Albion
- “A Theory of Everything” by Ken Wilber
- “Prayer: The Master Key” by James Dillet Freeman