During a recent business trip, a comment was made that struck me so much that I have pondered it for several days. It went something like, “You keep using the word ‘change’ like it’s a good thing. Why does everyone assume change is good or needed? Sometimes, change is a bad thing.”
At the time, I felt that I had to defend my beliefs about change. I am, in fact, a change agent of sorts, and on that day I was there to facilitate change to this individual’s practice. Yet I also wanted to validate this person’s opinion. I mean, how can I earn the trust of the people with whom I work if I don’t value and respect their opinions? I do, in fact, respect this person, mostly because they made me think (and I love to think). But I am not quite sure I entirely agree. Is change really a “bad” thing? Am I alone in embracing and even seeking out change? Honestly, I am the person who loves to rearrange my furniture, makeover my wardrobe, and try new foods. Isn’t this all change? Does change mean something different when it connects with our professional life – our practice?
After turning this over and over for a few days, my thinking shifted from the concept of change to the idea of growth and learning. Painting your kitchen is a decorating change; cutting your hair is a style change; improving your professional practice is GROWTH stemming from learning. This is a significant difference, one that I wish I had shared on that day a few weeks ago. You can get a bad haircut, and truly hate the color paint you put on the walls, but you can never regret what you learn and the resulting growth.
Here in western New York, fall is a season that is celebrated for the change it brings. We revel in the colors of the leaves, the dropping temperatures, and how the moon looks so close to the earth that you can almost touch it. During this time of year, we actually celebrate the opposite of growth. Ironic, isn’t it, that one can welcome a change that does not equate to growth? Maybe we celebrate fall for the promise that it brings; maybe we celebrate the differences between what was and what is to come. Maybe we celebrate because we know, for just this moment in time, that change is beautiful because it’s natural.
Change is hard, which is why people resist it. Growth is natural and organic; it’s an essential part of life. Perhaps if we position professional learning as growth rather than change we will decrease the resistance factor and actually connect with the gardeners among our staff – empowering those who enjoy making things grow.