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Insights: Is Change Desirable?
February 12, 2008

Is Change Desirable?

I remember, way back in high school, being part of the debating society discussion on the question: “Is change progress?”

I was fortunate to be paired with Lindsay Daniller, the bright and well-spoken daughter of a well-regarded local architect, to fight the ‘Yes” corner. Thanks, mainly to Lindsay’s oratory skills, we prevailed.

If I think about it now, whomever designed that particular debating topic must have had a mischievous streak! I mean, there is really no clear-cut answer to the question. At issue is one’s perspective on what constitutes progress, not to mention the nature of the change being contemplated.

Perhaps a more interesting and informative debate could have been entered into around the issue of whether or not change is desirable?

Some would argue that there really is no such thing as change; that the more things ‘change’ the more they stay the same; that everything forms part of one or more never ending series of cycles; that the status quo always prevails. After all, isn’t it a certainty that night follows day, that summer follows spring and that Halley’s comet reappears every 76 years? So, these people might reason, the key to handling what appears to be change, is simply to maintain the status quo.

Others, myself included, would argue the opposite; that the more things appear to stay the same, the more they change; that within each cyclical occurrence is to be found constant change and that each cyclical occurrence takes place within a constantly changing – or expanding – universe.

If you accept that life is about constant change, my message to you is about preparing yourself to accept change; about learning to welcome change and using it to help you grow; about celebrating change as a necessary and valuable life force.

Have you ever noticed how people who seemingly thrive on change seem more vibrant, more inspired and generally happier than those who spend their time trying to avoid it?

And yet, it’s almost a natural instinct for most of us to go to quite some lengths to ensure the status quo in our life is maintained, even if that status quo is far from ideal.


New Insights life coaches believe that humans are – at the most fundamental level – driven by opposite forces; the pursuit of ‘pleasure’ (enjoyable experiences) and the avoidance of ‘pain’ (uncomfortable experiences). But here’s the rub… avoiding pain is generally a far stronger motivator of our actions than pursuing pleasure!

Let’s look at a few examples:

  1. John’s friend has invited him to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip white water rafting down the Zambezi. He’s thrilled by the prospect of all the fun and excitement that the offer holds in store. But at the same time, his imagination runs wild as it confronts the real possibility of him capsizing, getting hit on the head by a submerged rock and experiencing a terrifying drowning ordeal. Do you think he accepts the invitation?

  2. What about Margie who has been working for her company for five years as a PA and who has built up a good reputation with her boss for the quality of service she has provided to him in Durban? The boss offers her the opportunity to head up the company’s customer service division in Johannesburg to accelerate her career growth. She is flattered and excited – but she dreads the prospect of being embarrassed by her staff or of being thought of as an incompetent leader. In addition, she can’t stand the thought of how sad it will be to move away from her friends. Do you think she takes up the offer?

  3. Then there’s Sipho who has been single for many years and is desperate to establish a serious romantic relationship. His friend invites him to a party in the knowledge that a girl called Nandi, who has previously expressed an interest in getting to know Sipho, has also been invited. Sipho thanks his friend and tells him he’ll think about it, all the while knowing that although he would love to meet Nandi, he has a terrible fear of being rejected by her. Do you think he agrees to go along?

These are situations that confront ordinary people in everyday life. Whereas some will gladly accept the scenario of change as an opportunity for pleasurable growth, many others will shun change as a potentially painful diversion from the apparent ‘safety’ of the status quo.

Which group do you fall into?

If change does not make a comfortable bedfellow for you, I would invite you to start, from today, looking at change in a very different way.

First, try accepting that change is inevitable, not just a ‘maybe’. Then look for ways in which embracing change has served you in the past. Next, decide that you will no longer fear change. Rather, that you will be concerned with the consequences of not recognising – and acting on - the opportunities that change presents. Finally, start to welcome the prospect of change; see change as an energy force that fuels your growth and makes your life interesting and vibrant.

Follow this process and you will see an amazing change within yourself. You’ll experience more freedom, greater self-confidence and enhanced personal growth as you lose your fear of change and instead learn to harness it’s positive energy. Perhaps you’ve had pleasurable thoughts about starting a new career helping other people as a well respected life coach, but fear of the changes involved and their implications has held you back from pursuing your dream?

If so, read this newsletter again and make a commitment to embrace the changes that you will need to make.

When you’re ready, we’re here to support you in achieving your goals!

Till next week…

Warm regards


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