Tag Archive | "change"

We’re All in This Together

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Civilization is a collective effort.  Most of us live our lives without ever considering, much less appreciating, the tens of thousands of people who support us in virtually everything we do.  Switching on a light, driving a car, riding a bicycle, eating a meal, sleeping on a bed, and virtually all of our activities of daily life require the contributions of untold thousands of individuals engaged in manufacturing, services, and maintenance of infrastructure critical to our way of life.  Everyone, from the sewer worker like the Art Carney character in the classic television series The Honeymooners to the corporate executive, plays a vital role in society.

The old Verizon Wireless commercials that displayed a network of people supporting each of their customers vividly and humorously made this point.  Yet, on a more serious note, most people, businesses, and governmental agencies behave as if they are living in their own worlds, disregarding the contributions of others to their own lifestyles or continued existence.

Consider the plight of many, if not the majority of Americans in our current state of economic decline.  With many unemployed or underemployed and more still discovering that their incomes cannot keep pace with rising prices, people everywhere are losing confidence in their employers, their businesses, their governments, their families, and even themselves.  And, even those who find themselves with surplus income are deeply concerned about their financial futures.

This state of fear, in and of itself, makes it considerably less likely that we will see improvement in our job market or broader economy in the near future.  But, we needn’t live in fear.  We simply need to adjust our thinking.  And, if enough of us do so, then our reality will also change, for we create our own collective reality.

If we (and by we, I mean to include individuals, businesses, and government officials) stopped categorizing others as customers, debtors, mortgagors, or any of a litany of other tags and instead viewed them as close friends, brothers, or sisters, our entire world would change.  If a family member or close friend was going through a difficult financial period in his or her life and owed you money, you wouldn’t harass that person demanding repayment.  You’d tell him not to worry about it, or you might even forgive him his debt.

Why can’t we do the same thing in our business relationships?  If a debtor cannot afford to repay his debt according to the initial terms of his agreement with his financier, why can’t we simply change the terms?  Isn’t that exactly what we did to keep our financial institutions afloat back in the fall of 2008?  If we can do that for businesses, why not for individuals?

We the people make the rules, and we can and should, when necessitated by circumstances, change them.  The time has come for a new American Revolution, a revolution in the way we treat and relate to each other individually and, in the aggregate, as groups or entities.

We can create a kinder, fairer, better world.  We need only the collective will to do so.  Think about it! 

The Ubiquitousness of Change

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“Change has come to America.”

(President-Elect Barack Obama – Election Night, November 4, 2008)

In an election that will surely be deemed by future chroniclers as historic, Americans – just two years ago – selected Barack Obama to become their 44th President and first President to come from a racial minority.  Employing slogans including “Change You Can Believe In” and “Yes We Can,” Obama and the Democrat Party won a broad and decisive victory that confirmed the American public’s desire for change.  And, in the intervening 22-plus months since assuming the mantle of power, the Obama Administration and the Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress have instituted sweeping changes in areas from economics to military policy to healthcare.

In an election held just 24 hours ago that some are already dubbing as “historic,” a broad coalition of Americans from sea to shining sea again demonstrated their almost insatiable appetite for change; this time, a change from the changes instituted by Democrats and the Obama Administration.  Change, you see, can travel in multiple and often surprising directions.

And, while the political pundits analyze the results and pontificate on their significance ad nauseum, suffice it to say that change is and never has been a stranger to America or, for that matter, life.  Change does not need to be ushered in like theater-goers.  It is woven into the fabric of our collective national experience and our own personal lives.  It is a constant in a world that oft times seems chaotic.

Everyday, each of us ages – our bodies changing in subtle, often imperceptible ways.  We learn knew things and think new thoughts.  We initiate or cultivate relationships, affirm commitments, execute contracts, secure or lose employment, start and run businesses, invent new products, marry, divorce, and change in thousands of other ways.  Each year, we witness the splendor of autumn, barrenness of winter, and nature’s rebirth in the spring.  We mourn the passing of friends, family members, and acquaintances and joyously welcome new arrivals, for the newborn are truly representatives of change.  Embedded in their largely untapped potential is the hope that they will overcome the obstacles and seize upon the possibilities that have eluded us in our own lives.

Of course, change may be beneficial, neutral, or harmful and frequently lies outside our individual comfort zones.  Yet, it is a force that neither can nor will be stayed no matter how much we resist it.  Faced with the inevitable, one has limited choices – continue the futility of resistance, delude oneself into the belief that nothing has changed, or identify the beneficial aspects of change and embrace them.

With deference to the opinion expressed by our then President-Elect, change did not arrive in America in November 2008 or, for that matter, with the results of yesterday’s elections.  It always was and will be.  For those with the courage to accept it, it opens new possibilities and liberates us from outmoded thinking and behavior.  On the wings of change is born a new day carrying with it the hope that we can better our best, achieve new heights, and lay to rest old fears and prejudices.  At this time and in this moment, as at all times and in all moments past and future, we have the opportunity to build a better world.  Can we do it?  If we embrace change and open ourselves to the possibilities, our answer will be a resounding “Yes, We Can.” 

Running with the Bulls

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Among my favorite television commercials of all time is a spot promoting Coca-Cola that aired a number of years ago.  In the commercial, a nurse asks an elderly gentleman – presumably residing in an assisted living or nursing facility – if he wants a Coke.  The man responds affirmatively.  While drinking the beverage, he remarks that he has never had one.  And then, a revelation strikes him.  What other positive or pleasurable opportunities has he missed in his life?

The next sequences show him contacting a lost love to propose marriage, riding a motorcycle, diving from a high board, and running with the bulls in Pamplona.  The commercial ends with the nurse, returning to the spot at which he had been seated previously, bewildered by his absence.

As in the advertisement, sometimes our lives and perceptions can change for the better in an instant.  Positive change is a decision, like every other decision we make in our lives.  Why the man had never previously pursued any of the challenges and adventures portrayed in the commercial is a matter of conjecture.  If he is at all typical of most of us, his reasons may have included fear, anxiety, lethargy, and a host of other emotions or attitudes.

Also, as in the commercial, sometimes a particular happening will awaken us from the slumbering state in which many of us lead our daily lives.  “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” is an expression connoting the observable fact that learning and awareness depend equally upon the availability of the particular subject matter as well as the learner’s ability and openness to absorb it.  In the case of the man in our commercial, the experience of a Coke for the first time awakened in him the desire to pursue other new avenues and, in a sense, helped him summon the motivation and will to venture out from the relative comfort and security of his current situation.

Each of us is presented with revelatory moments frequently in our lives.  Often, self-imposed barriers inhibit our capacity to act on our newly-discovered aims.  As we are presented with stimuli that awaken within us the desire to blaze new trails in our lives, may we individually have the courage and energy to “run with the bulls.” 

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