“You can’t step in the same river twice,” said Pocahontas. Or was it Heraclitus?
Everything changes, even you, despite what Take That may have had to say about it.
We must change or become stagnant, says my dad.
But not all change is good. Change for change’s sake is unlikely to be effective. Don’t change a winning horse. If it aint broke, don’t fix it, as my mum says (- sometimes even if it is broke! Hehe…). Conventional wisdom, it seems, can’t quite make up its mind.
I recently completed a psychometric questionnaire for a job interview, which placed me off the chart in terms of embracing change, adapting to change, driving change – so it seems I’m more in my dad’s camp when it comes to valuing change over stability. I’m at my most creative in situations that are rather unstructured, I enjoy new challenges, and I have zero tolerance for dogmatism. Who wants to do the same thing over and over? Been there, done that, written the tweet. So change in life is important for me.
Digital marketing, then, is a pretty good fit for me. Technology is constantly advancing, consumer behaviour changing, best practices evolving. It’s incredibly stimulating: a never-ending learning curve, an opportunity to evolve along with the changes in the field.
But it’s exhausting! You’re always in flux, working towards a moving target, devouring news across a gazillion platforms to stay on top of the latest developments, always ‘on’.
And, sometimes, the old approach may still be the best one. Building further on the fundamentals you’ve already put in place may be more effective than jumping on the latest #bandwagon.
I think the same is true in life. Being constantly on the lookout for something better is exhausting, too. Life is not always greener on the other side; and, even if it is, what happens when you get to that other side? Is life even greener on another other side? You can get stuck in an ever-continuing spiral of raising the bar, setting your sights ever higher, dreaming new and more ambitious dreams.
Such is human nature. Our desire to innovate, to learn and adapt, has allowed us to survive, and thrive, where other species have faded away. We need only look at the well-documented cases of Kodak and Blackberry for evidence of this phenomenon in the business world.
So to change or not to change, is that the question?
Well, a certain amount of change is inevitable. That river is going to change, whether you want it to or not. In fact, you’re going to change whether you mean to or not. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept it. And, as with most things in life, the sweet spot is most likely to be found in some balance between stability and change. Yin and yang, consolidation and expansion, continuity and evolution. Such is the delicate seesaw of life.
This post was inspired by an article from The Shrink & The Sage in the FT Magazine, Should we embrace change?; as well as by recent discussions with my parents.