Ex­per­i­ment, ex­plore, ex­pe­ri­ence

Elite Agent - - FIRST PERSON - Sarah Bell

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

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