Every day, every hour, every minute, we’re changing and so is our world. Some may feel resistant to change, and even claim to be personally unchangeable, yet the presence of change is one of life’s few constants. Marriage, graduation, a new job, the birth of a child: all bring change. But so do eating a big lunch, seeing a sad movie, and meeting someone new. We experience and relate to change daily. Every day we have a slightly new normal.
Change happens. We can’t avoid change. We are always in some form of transition, always arriving at some new place and dealing with new rollouts, new ideas, new everything. The very molecules inside the cells of our bodies are in constant flux.
Significant change can arrive like an Oklahoma twister, picking us up, shaking our sense of identity, and then dropping us way outside of our comfort zone. The ailing economy and the tough business climate (not to mention the real climate) make it easy to understand why so many people have trouble finding ways to get and stay moving toward progress. It may feel like a safe place, but it is dangerous to live in denial.
Our world and our lives are always changing, but they are not always progressing. Yet, opportunities for progress still exist, even in the most challenging of times. It is natural to resist what we view as change. However, we embrace what we view as progress.
We should be careful not to mistake mere change for progress. Just because something is new or flashy does not mean it is right or adds meaning to our lives. We live in a “next big thing” world. However, because all progress is change, people who claim to be 100% “resistant to (any) change” are often choosing to be resistant to the possibility of progress.
Progress means: forward movement, advance, gradual betterment. It takes awareness, character, discipline, and effort to progress. The word progress carries a forward thrust and focus, a vibrant and transcendent quality that the words change and even success don’t deliver. With every success comes the desire for more success.
When we reach a goal, our natural ambitiousness tells us that the goal is also the stepping stone to the next, possibly more rewarding and worthwhile, goal. Therefore, every success establishes a new norm, and brings with it the question: What next?
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.” — Dr. Viktor Frankl
The road to success is always under construction. We are always striving for something. Continual striving can become quite unpleasant and unhealthy if we do not take time to soak in the positive buzz – feelings – from our forward momentum.
When we focus on creating daily progress, we are able to feel daily satisfaction. With every forward step, we see more clearly, our confidence grows, our position improves, and our options multiply. We progress toward today’s goal on the strength of our past progress. Once achieved, today’s goal becomes tomorrow’s launching pad.
When a new opportunity comes our way, we internalize it, and size it up as Progress or Change. This new opportunity could be starting a new relationship, buying an electronic gadget, working extra hours on a project, getting up to speed on a new product line, working to meet quota, anything. All progress is change, but not all change is progress.
Let’s say I have an upset stomach. “Man, I’ve got a stomachache. Ouch! My stomach is killing me. This has got to change.” Somebody hears me, walks over, and punches me in the nose. Is that change? Yeah, it’s change. But it’s not progress. Well, maybe to the person who punched me, but not to me.
What may seem like progress (good) to one person or group of people may seem like change (bad) to another. Propaganda, book burning, even war and murder are all thought of as “progress” at some point in the minds of the perpetrators (scary).
Because progress is subjective, there is no single factor that clearly determines whether an event represents progress or change. However, we can say that we:
- Start businesses to progress, not change
- Work on teams to progress, not change
- Make the tough choices and the tough phone calls to progress, not change
- Join an organization to progress, not change
- Spend our hard-earned money to progress, not change. (We would rather keep our change than change, but will offer our best to progress.)
As we age we realize that slowing change can be progress. Think of the forty-year-old swimmer who manages to equal her performance from five years before. Maintenance is progress in that it avoids change for the worse.
We do not want life-changing products, services, experiences, ideas, and opportunities. We want life-progressing products, services, experiences, ideas and opportunities.
To Change Is Human; to Progress, Divine.
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