Experiment, explore, experience
LOOKING AT THE YEAR GONE BY and gazing into the crystal ball of the one ahead, the old saying about change being the only constant seems to ring as true as ever. But, says Sarah Bell, it is potential for change that provides the advantage of freedom that no other force can.
A lot of people fear change. Sometimes, but not often, that fear is almost overwhelming: the impact that changing or not changing may have on others, the additional effort needed and the emotional, physical, and economic costs involved. Then there is the perennial uncertainty of whether, after all that, the change will bring us closer to our goals and more aligned with our vision and values.
Here's what I know about change and what I see echoed in every discipline, whether we choose to change or have it imposed on us: It is the ability to adapt and evolve that is more valuable than whether the change itself is wholly good or wholly bad.
If you are timid in the face of change or creating change, it's interesting to note that a move which takes you backwards is still worth something, in physics and in life. In physics, there is a concept called displacement, which works like this. If you run five times around a 1 km circular track, you may have travelled 5 km in distance but, according to the laws of physics, you didn't go anywhere because you started and finished in the same place – no change, just a lot of the same. It's only if you finish somewhere else that you have actually changed your position.
So even if you only ran 1 km but you did it with direction, physics recognises that there has been displacement of the space between where you started and where you finished – a displacement of 1 km, ideally closer to your destination. If your distance sent you 1 km backwards, use your experience to move in a different direction, with improved aim. The moral of displacement is to throw off the hamster wheel; choose a strategic direction and commit to a change of position – experiment, explore, experience.
In mathematical language, the measure of displacement is represented by the Greek letter delta, which looks like a little triangle and represents the measurement of ‘change in' something. This measurement isn't about whether you go forwards or backwards, but recognises that the change is the valuable or interesting part of any journey – and worth measuring. A delta of anything is better than delta zero in scientific analysis, because no change (or the inability to change) is what leads to death in the physical world – as well as for our business planning exercise.
In business, it is important to understand that even the opportunity to change, the availability of change, has an inherent value. The complete inability to change is normally confined to the scenario of contractual exclusivity – where we have agreed to deal with another party exclusively for a period of time.
Sometimes we are tied to ‘bad deals', not out of contractual exclusivity but out of habit or fear.
Contractual exclusivity is, in fact, a disability-at-law because, by their nature, rigid contracts restrict the ability of a party to exercise a freedom – their freedom to change. Such a limitation on our freedom should be understood as valuable so as to similarly conceive the value of our ability to change.
If we owned a pub and entered into an exclusive deal to buy beer from one brewery, our end of the deal is restrictive because the contract prevents our changing beer suppliers. It is valuable in business negotiations to prevent other people from changing to a competitor or a cheaper product. It is valuable to our beer supplier that we have forsaken the freedom to buy any other kind of beer, even where that other beer is better or cheaper.
So in making planning decisions that tie us to projects, to organisations or to particular people, we need to make sure that the beer is good, the price is fair and it's the best of the available options at the time. If it is, restricting your freedom for that exclusivity is a valuable deal. If the restriction comes at too high a cost, the deal is bad.
Sometimes we can all be tied to ‘bad deals', not out of contractual exclusivity but out of habit or fear. What bad deals are you tied to – and do you need to be? Are you buying bad beer when there's better beer out there?
The thing to focus on with change is our freedom. With freedom, our choices may or may not work out; but whether we learn through the currency of lessons or listings it's the delta, or the ‘change in', that will provide the learning. Where we are free to do and to be anything we like, we are unlimited.
We should not fear change, but use the freedom to change for ‘better'. By resisting change, we abdicate our freedom and can waste pastimes and lifetimes running around circular tracks stuck with bad, expensive beer – two things to avoid at all costs.
Sarah Bell is a Features writer and regular contributor to Elite Agent Magazine. She also continues to provides Corporate and Strategic Leadership at Brad Bell Real Estate. For more information, visit bradbell.com.au