Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Embracing Change

The most significant and beneficial transitions in my life have been the result of involuntary change. During these times of upheaval my internal conversations were always the same… “Why is this happening to me?”… “This is not what I planned!”… “This loss is too painful.” The anxiety and uncertainty I felt from these disruptive events in my life drained my energy and clouded my thinking. I felt out of control and frustratingly lost.

In recalling one of these significant events of forced change, I clearly remember being 21 years old and failing to get into medical school. My entire life until that rejection letter arrived was focused on becoming a doctor. I didn’t have a backup plan and now that I was graduating from college, I had no idea what my future had in store… I had no vision.

I was so fearful of this unanticipated disruption to my new start in life that I woke each morning in a cold sweat… asking myself “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

Amazingly, this unplanned occupation disaster turned out to be the very best thing that happened in my professional career. Instead of becoming a doctor… or worse a shrink, I created an exciting and remarkable journey as an entrepreneur. Life is extraordinary in this way. Almost everyone experiences moments of disruptive change. We lose jobs, break up with lovers, acquire an illness, experience the death of a loved one… and we are forced to adapt.

The most disruptive, painful changes in our lives often generate the most positive, joyful, satisfying results. This is a subtle and introspective “Secret of Life”. The earlier we learn this secret and apply it to our perception of life’s challenges… the quicker we learn to seize new opportunities. Personally, it took three painful, confidence shattering, faith testing, uncontrollable life changing events to learn this important lesson. In all three extremely troubled situations, the most significant, positive life changes resulted after a relatively short, but painful time period of adaptation. In retrospect, I left behind my strong attachment to the old and moved forward with effort and desire to embrace the opportunity of new.

The important mindful realization that change is constant and that we can with energy and effort, control our attitude toward change is certainly an integral component of this subtle “Secret of Life”. I am lucky that disruptive change and unmanageable forces in my life taught me that change drives growth, it motivates action, powers transformation, and causes new ways of thinking. Change is inevitable… change is constant… change is great!

I no longer just embrace change, I pursue it. I am addicted! I find it exhilarating, challenging, motivating. I often change things just for the sake of it. For me change is an adrenalin rush. My attraction to change has turned into a lifelong quest for something new… new experiences, new learning, new business models, new adventures.

Ease of change does not come naturally to some. It can be difficult for people who deny or resist… it can be uncomfortable and feel risky. Often our minds are conditioned to feel safe where we are, and frankly many people don’t even want to change.

But here we are… completely engulfed in a world that is accelerating change economically, technically, socially, politically, scientifically. If we don’t embrace it, if we don’t leverage it, if we stay the same, that sameness will lead to inertia or even worse, we become mediocre. And mediocrity is the black hole of energy. What do you want to be? Mediocre? Or do you aspire to greatness? So, get moving and change something important today!


  1. As someone who can also find the allure of of change to be overwhelming, I'd love to know how you balance that addiction with the need to hunker down. An eye on the future is essential, but that can quickly become a way of avoiding what needs to happen in the present. I'd be curious to know how you balance the constant desire to look forward with the focus needed to create something like HOF.

  2. When I was building the Paul Klecka brand in the 1990's I discovered that my staff got very comfortable in the groove of their individual everyday activities within the business. While empowered with their own responsibilities and decision making, I found that they still resisted change and coasted by on the predictable.
    I took that as my cue to mix things up - not only with new design ideas - but by posing the question "why do we do it this way...and is there an alternative?" The result was innovation that contributed to our bottom line while inspiring creativity.
    I was fortunate that my team's role in effectively handling the 'hunker down' stuff enabled me to function as the visionary.

  3. Michael,
    During disruptive times, risk management and strategic asset allocation is not hunkering down. It is just proper business management. As for your question about balance... I consider vision and focus completely aligned and in no need of balancing. In life, it is always about execution, execution, execution. Dreams and innovative ideas are worthless without successful and focused implementation. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Keep them coming!

  4. Paul, your excellent comment ”why do we do it this way…and is there an alternative?” should be the mantra of every organization. One of the most effective means of leading change is asking the right questions. Thanks for sharing your experience. Glenn

  5. Thanks Glenn. You may resonate with this from Steve Jobs;

    Follow your vision without obstructions


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