The Nature of Change

Greg Williams

Are humans, by nature, resistant to change? If we were, by nature, resistant to change, we wouldn’t date, get married, have kids, take vacations, accept a promotion or commit to the challenges of community development, yoga, the martial arts or any other social and personal disciplines. These are all examples of common changes … changes we not only do-not-resist making; but in fact, we devote tremendous amounts of our resources to making them happen.

Every waking moment of every day, we are all actively involved in the change process. First, we look at the world around us to see if we are enjoying four vital conditions: Safety, Security, Happiness and Health. If we determine that we are not as safe, as secure, as happy or as healthy as we want to be, nature tells us that we need to make some sort of change. So we move on to step 2 and implement a change that we believe will make us safer, more secure, happier or healthier. We then move onto step 3 of assessing the result of the change we made. If it worked, we move on to other things. But if it didn’t work, nature tells us to return to step 2 and try something else.

As humans, we have a herd instinct. Once we find what we believe is a better way to do something, we feel compelled to try to influence others to think or behave in the same way. Consequently, change is the central activity of the human experience. Change is at the heart of every relationship. And, through continuous improvement, change is the purpose of every job.

So, if we aren’t by nature resistant to change, there must be some other explanation for the aversion experienced when we’re trying to influence – or, are being influenced – by others. We change in order to gain greater control over a given situation in our lives -- or to maintain the level of control we have already achieved. We will not change if we think that we are already in-control because change always involves an element of risk. Similarly, unless we believe that the proposed change will help us gain or maintain control, we will resist making the change. Control is what it’s all about. It’s what we buy ... it’s what we sell ... and it’s what we value!

The critical factor that determines what changes someone will make and when those changes will occur is tension. Tension is defined as the level of physical, emotional and intellectual activity a person is experiencing at a given moment in time. Tension determines what we will notice and what we will ignore. As tension increases, our level of productivity also increases until it reaches the critical point where excessive stress is generated and our productivity drops-off dramatically. However, at a particular point, there is an ideal level of tension equating maximum productivity. 

Bottom line: Pay Attention to Tension! If you aren’t, you could be losing business, jeopardizing relationships important to you or otherwise impeding your natural refinement. 

How would your world change if you could manage the optimal level of productive tension required for whatever you need to do or have done?



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