This post was written out of my anxiety about how people use the word ‘change’ this days. This particular word has become popular magic word for many types of social phenomenon. Sadly, it has also been overrated.
The initial interpretation about change is change process itself. Therefore, we see change in a lot of forms. Redecorating our room, making new year resolution, learning new skills, or even adjusting our shopping budget. Those are only few examples. Perhaps, without we actually aware of it, change has already embedded in our life.
But, there are certain types of change we usually react vehemently, either out of pleasure or dismay. Changes on corporate strategy provokes employees reaction. Change in politics invite people’s reaction. Change in the way we work day-to-day, which push us to adapt again; that’s also a huge thing! These types of change usually affect important aspects of our lives, and most people call it as change that matters.
These type of change are probably the most difficult one to deal with. Inspired by the work of William Bridges in Managing Transition, the very first thing about change is accepting reality of the past and the present. This initial step is already a difficult one to do. The next thing is to embrace ‘the neutral zone’ where we acknowledge that we can’t cling on the past, and yet, we have not yet move toward the future. This neutral zone is a point to settle with the past, and embrace the possibility the future has for us. Then, from that neutral zone, we can commit to move forward.
Fail to go through these steps ia fail to adapt to change. The unique risk around change is that change relies on our belief on hope. Hope is a success factor, and a risk factor. Failures in adapting to change may decrease our belief on our hope, which will lead to more failures. If this happens in repetition, it creates learned-helplessness. Then, hope fades and change overrated. No hope, no change. Too much hope may also put us on a painful fall-back when things do not go as planned (…and they rarely do).
That’s not the only case, I think. Excessive using of the word ‘change’ to set a suggestive frame about certain ideas, without actually bringing about change is an issue we need to be more cautious of. Let’s see how popular ‘change’ is today. It seems the global anxiety about current world issues create a social trend we can call as “the change wave”. In part, may be we thank US President Barack Obama who had made this particular word sexy in various context. Now, we can see in the media how politician use ‘change’ to win the office. In businesses, ‘change’ is being used extensively in justifying unpopular decisions and actions. In many aspects of popular culture, words like ‘change’ has become marketing icon rather then an actual process of deconstruction-reconstruction.
Thus, the value of the word ‘change’ has been deflated by this trend. ‘Change’ has become more as a commodity instead of a transformational effort. However, I’m not saying this is bad. In fact, it shows how necessary change is for our life today. The bottom line is: Is it about actual change? Or is it just another popular icon?
The distinction between the two is poignant. The first one is about a social and collective action, and the latter is about merely social fashion and ideas. And in my opinion, too much of the latter one will make ‘change’ overrated, as well as another commodity which become deflated when it is obtainable easily without much efforts. Too much discussion and seminars about change without behavioral manifestation will only make people sick about it. Talks about change again and again without actually doing it is how we make ‘change’ overrated. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
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