Know your destination
AMERICAN voters elected a new president last week. “Change” they seemed to clamour for and change they got. But, almost as soon as the result was announced, thousands began protesting against the president-elect.
It appeared, that was not the change they wanted!
And, what’s happened in the US echoes Brexit in the UK when more than half the voters in a referendum opted for the UK to leave the European Union. Again, no sooner was the decision announced, many wanted it reversed. They wanted to stay in the EU.
All of us have longed for change in our lives, hoping that will make us better. Inevitably, that longing lingers on, morphing into different goals but the yearning persists, at times beneath a veneer of outward satisfaction.
We consider change a “threat” when done to us, but an “opportunity” when done by us.
A clear destination is necessary. Many change efforts falter because of being deceived, misguided or confused over exactly where everyone is expected to arrive.
In the story Alice in Wonderland, when Alice, who is confused, asks the Cheshire cat which road she should take, the cat responds: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
That’s a helpful reminder to pin down our goal first. Zoom in on the destination on our mental map, and then zoom out to pick the best path.
That way, it’s not the immediate gain that we’re obsessed with, but something more concrete and well-thought out that will see us through the mediumto-long term.
When one is engaged in the effort of setting a new direction, changing behaviour or reaching a hitherto unattained goal, it is important to consider the wide ranging benefits it could bring to all who would be affected by it.
Often, what one wants to achieve can seem overwhelming. The magnitude of the problem, the difficulty of the solutions, the length of the time and the number of action items can make change feel so complex that people feel paralysed, and nothing happens.
We need to be conscious that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.
We must do something, get started, take the first steps and the journey is underway.
Overconfidence, especially compounded by arrogance, reluctance or fear of mistakes can sometimes leave paths unexplored. It’s important to seize every possibility and unexpected opportunity. Some sidelines are dead ends, but others might prove to be faster routes to the goal.
There are many roadblocks, obstacles and surprises on the journey to change, and each one tempts us to give up. Give up prematurely, and the change effort is automatically a failure. Find a way around the obstacles, perhaps by making some tweaks in the plan, and keep going.
Persistence and perseverance are essential to successful change and to realise one’s ambitions.
Most importantly, leaders must embody the values and principles they want other people to adopt. They must be role models, exemplifying the best of what the change is all about.
If possible, tie change to things people already want, and give them a chance to act on their own goals and aspirations, then it is met with more enthusiasm and commitment.
Then, and only then, will people be able to honestly pursue, recognise, accept and benefit by the change they seek.
Rueben Dudley Petaling Jaya