What I would like to address here is something much more fundamental, without going into the management jargon. Something very basic that gives rise to all these theories.
We miss the importance of change when we wallow in our comfort zone because we have got one idea right or perfected one practice or even managed to achieve a level of success out of one particular methodology. This is when we tend to rest on our laurels. Nay, not only do we rest on it, we literally nest on it.
We don’t move on. We sink our roots deep and live in almost perpetual fear of not being able to repeat that one time miracle. We eventually become that worst nightmare, a one hit wonder. And it is then that we begin the process of paralysing ourselves.
Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful, it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful, it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident, it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.
Hence, in the larger scheme of things, change is the one true path – and if I may say, the only path to liberation. It then becomes the only function available, allowing us to breathe, grow and develop ourselves.
The late US Statesman Robert F Kennedy summed it up very well when he said, “Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies.”
More often than not, that enemy is within us.
Why change and decision-making are intertwined
Change is not just critical for growth. Uniquely enough, it is also critical in the decision-making process. Basically, any change requires decisions, whether on our part or on someone else’s. If there is no change needed, then what is there to decide? Therefore by definition, all decisions are about change. And change by definition is itself a decision. Any decision-making process hinges on change.
Once we understand this great paradox, the only way forward is to adopt change and therefore to adapt our decisions accordingly. When we do not decide, we simply begin to deteriorate.
Andy Warhol who revolutionised visual arts in the 1950s, famously said –“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
A classic example
A classic example would be from my own life. There was a time many years ago, when I was locked into a period of growth that did not require me to go off the beaten path or think about things beyond my comfort zone. Therefore, despite the appearance of growth, I was in truth, defragmenting.
I wasn’t losing my senses or coming apart at the seams but I was certainly losing essential skill sets. I felt a vacuum because I was following a career path that had been preset for me – one that required no change or challenge… no daring, no decisions.
Even though I worked hard and my salary scale and job description improved with time, I did not see any real change in myself, as an individual. I didn’t feel challenged. Worse still, I did not see the need to challenge myself.
The greatest fuel of my comfort zone was the paycheque – the steady paycheque that robbed my will, my hunger and my need to seek any further. I was a man without a will and it took a jarring experience of the loss of a good friend to reawaken me to my purpose in life, to question my direction and shake me out of my vapid existence.
In what I now see as a turning point, I went through a series of very real changes. I quit my job, left the city and even left the country to head to a new land, to challenge myself all over again. It was a quest to find myself. Find myself, I did. That decision was painful, but liberating. It saved me and revived me. It renewed my sense of urgency and brought me back to earth. I felt reality once more and challenged each day as if it were my last. It set me on the path of becoming an entrepreneur. I have not looked back since.
Today, I live for change because I have decided to live and I live to decide.
Life is about decisions and constant change. They are both intertwined and inseparable. Decide and be free. Remain undecided and be derided. The choice is yours.
(The writer is a leading Asian businessman, bestselling author and speaker. He is also a major investor in the Colombo Stock Exchange.)
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