30th June 2016


Things I have learned about change (again) this week.

As a professional coach I deal with change all the time and I never cease to be surprised by people’s reaction to change, including my own reaction. This week our country democratically voted for significant and momentous change. Whatever I may have voted my reaction to the result of the referendum was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I was excited at the prospect of change, largely because improvement always involves change. I was nervous because change doesn’t necessarily lead to improvement.

However, the die was democratically cast and then the backlash and the recriminations began. There are some who would try to wind the clock back. How many times has something happened and we wished we could turn the clock back? Well we can’t.

There are some who would say that the voting was poorly organised because young people didn’t vote in enough numbers and unemployed people voted in too many numbers. Well we should all have thought about that before a referendum was tabled. The trouble with democracy is that everyone has an equal vote and millions have died to give us that privilege and then to defend it so let’s not now decry democracy unless we want to promote another system of government.

The die has been cast and change will happen. Don’t let us allow the fear of change to get in the way. What is important now is how we individually and collectively deal with it. We don’t always get what we want in life but what we do get is the right, and the privilege, to choose our attitude to what happens to us both individually and collectively.

We can individually and collectively decide whether we are going to use this period of change as an opportunity or a threat. The author Edwin Louis Cole once wrote that “Successful people recognize crisis as a time for change – from lesser to greater, smaller to bigger.” This is a time for change. Whether we use it to go from lesser to greater or in the other direction is a choice. It always is. Which will you choose? Which will we as a nation collectively choose?

Churchill once said that “The price of greatness is responsibility.”. We need to take responsibility for our future, both individually and collectively. It is our choice. Our destiny lies in the future, not in the past and we can fashion our own future. I use an image with my coaching clients which says a breakthrough follows a break down, a break up, or a break with. I am excited to see what breakthroughs will follow the break up we have voted for. Now is a time for great leaders to emerge and to lead both individually and collectively.

The only difference between fear and excitement is perspective and so I will sign off with this quote from Seth Godin under the heading A bird in search of a cage.

“So much freedom, so much choice, so many opportunities to matter.

And yet, our cultural instinct is to find a place to hold us, a spot where we are safe from the responsibility/obligation/opportunity to choose. Because if we choose, then we are responsible, aren’t we?”