It is a universally agreed maxim that “No-one likes change” but for some reason, this cliché has never entered my thought processes and nor do I want it to.
So here’s the challenge – if you ever hear me lamenting a change, a new way of doing things, reflecting on the “old days”, a better time; please tap me on the shoulder and point me back to this blog.
Change is the only constant, embrace it, love it, instigate it!
I have been reflecting on change for some time now using a catalyst of coming to grips with today’s youth and my own perceptions of their attitude, philosophical position and/ or actions. Hard to look cool throwing stones at them when your own back yard is not in order.
So let me take you through my thoughts from the past, through the present and onto the future as this Blog is want to do.
Reading Albert Facey’s autobiographical novel ‘A Fortunate Life’ and reflecting on my Grandparents life, what my Parents and Parents in-law achieved/ went through – stands in stark contrast with what I experienced/ am experiencing.
Janet and Gareth are now the following generation with many of my friends and peers experiencing Grandchildren of their own not to forget Janet and Gareth’s friends having their own families. So my reflection covers nearly five generations.
Even the definition, “generation”; changes; once from the birth of an individual and the birth of its offspring was 20 or 25 years. Now we have a calculation based upon “three generations per century (33 years each) for male lines and 3.5 generations per century (29 years each) for female lines” from Ancestory.com.
So pick a period, from William George Durrant, born 4 March 1882 to Gareth William Durrant born 17 September 1985, to today, 10 January 2012, nearly 130 years.
Do we want Gareth to go through what, William, Bob and Peter went through? Do we want to see William or Bob dealing with communication on Facebook? Who knows – but I do know Peter Durrant mortified Bob Durrant in his first 16 years, I know nothing of William’s views on Bob but all that shaped me in understanding and driving my interaction with Janet & Gareth.
I was a free spirit and detested my Father foisting on me his standards and views. I was naughty and street smart very rarely getting caught for my misdemeanours.
I believe strongly that we are who we are. I don’t know exactly why that is but in my view your inner self is pre-ordained somehow. Nevertheless, you are able to grow and act, as you see fit, when you see fit to do so – if you choose to do so.
So what about me – as an example from Myers Briggs; my personality was as an ESTP – “Good on-the spot problem solving. Do not worry enjoy whatever comes along. Tend to like mechanical things and sports, generally conservative in values. Dislike long explanations. Are best with real things that can be worked, handled, taken apart or put together”. (1998)
From the DISC analysis (2000), my personality was as a “Communicating Driver” with the primary traits of Active and Controlled. “People like Peter are highly motivated and ambitious. He focuses strongly on a set of personal goals and will go to great lengths to achieve these. He is quick thinking and energetic, and will strive to achieve.”
The first step, in my view, to moving forward and understanding change is looking in the mirror. If you understand who you are and are comfortable with where you are in life you can deal with whatever is thrown at you. You are who you are!
Having evolved through a number of significant emotional experiences in my working career I find myself in this place shaped by a) who I am and b) how I handled my environment over time.
I am shaped by 23 years in the Navy – totally independent and disciplined by years of conditioning (maybe brainwashing) but being in the Navy was good for me IMHO.
I was driven to be a different Father to my children. Different to my children than my Father was to me. This was not just a vision I was obsessed because of my relationship (or lack of it) with my Father. But I was not ready for dealing with my children nor thought about it in detail – other than this desire to be different.
I gained a Commission in the Navy, moving from the Ranks to the Officer Corps was significant. You were accepted and tolerated but never embraced by the Career Officers or the “System”. Interesting how personal improvement is seen by others.
Next environmental moulding milestone was taking on an MBA completed over 5 years, through three jobs, two changes of State and three different Universities. The world’s most convoluted MBA
Followed by a baptism in Industry with three redundancies; periods of unemployment and huge personal growth of learning in a journey from tradesman to General Manager and now small business owner.
My shingle has on it, inter alia, Change Management. It is an area I enjoy immensely and have something to contribute that arena.
I find myself looking at everything through the eyes of change and as I reflect on the many exchange students who come through my world I find myself being much more tolerant of their foibles and delighted with their positive traits.
Moreover, I also look at my peers and seniors and wonder if they want to embrace change.
I look at Rotary as an organisation – it is slowly morphing; held back by those not wanting to change or not seeing any value in changing. Left by those wanting change and not seeing it.
In industry I have been amazed by the paucity of leadership and understanding of change and I have come to the following conclusions:
• Senior management in industry, the military, not for profit – all see the need for change and genuinely profess to believe in it and embrace it. But they spend too much time thinking about the change with respect to themselves and are usually too far away from the affect of the change they instigate to understand the ramifications.
• The worker bees want change and genuinely go to work to carry out their job well and don’t want to be continually inflicted with the latest fad from above. Give me clear unambiguous direction & purpose the leave me alone to get on with the job. Just treat me with dignity & respect. The odd pat on the back or well done will do.
• In the middle is a group of ill-prepared people acting as a very poor filter of the cries for help below and the screeches for change from above. A much maligned and denigrated group who usually have been promoted to their highest level of incompetence (Dr Peters – the Peter Principle)
So what do we have to do to make change more bearable and work – it’s easy:
1. Look around and find out what is going on in your patch (all levels) at home, whilst volunteering or at work.
2. Find out what is going well – build on it, embrace it and acknowledge it – recognise & praise the sources of things going well.
3. Improve just what needs to be improved after you find out just what is actually going on.