We’ve all see or heard the phrase, “be the change,” but what does that really mean? On the face of it, the phrase may smack of some kind of new-age platitude commonly seen on inspirational lunch-room wall posters. I’m not sure myself what the anonymous authors meant, but to a change agent such as myself, it has obvious and relevant meaning for both me and my clients.
For many of those with whom I work, change is something that happens to them — a work crisis, a promotion, a failed relationship, an unwanted move, etc. Much of my work is helping people to avoid avoidance, to grasp the nettle of change and put everything they can behind a conscious change and not just ride a random wave of change.
“Being the change” is a close relation to this. But there is a key difference. Those of us who are the change do not simply respond healthily to their environment and embrace change when it comes upon them. These people actually seek out change. They recognise and engage with things in their lives they feel could be better and they seek out the nettle of change and initiate change. Not everyone is wired this way. In fact, most of us prefer the comfort of avoidance of reacting to change, never mind initiating it!
Is it desirable to ‘be the change?’ There is no simple answer to that question. It is possible to lead a relatively happy life simply drifting from one avoidance tactic to another and avoiding change altogether. I believe, however, that most people are happier when they lead a life that recognises change opportunities and takes advantage of them. I also believe that, like most other opportunities in life, they don’t always land in our laps. Being able to see opportunities for change and then proactively assessing those change opportunities and acting upon them can feed the mind, body and soul in ways you might never imagine. If this was not true we would not have the phrase, which we all know well, that begins with, ‘if only I…’