Change is messy and always comes at a cost, but desire and confidence can make dealing with the mess and the cost easier.
Change is messy; it’s disruptive. We’re thrown off balance by attractive ideas for change. We suffer the uncertainty that accompanies change. We don’t know whether change will play out as hoped or, as is often the case, different than we envision. A third element of messiness is resistance. There will always be some people who fear and, consequently, resist change.
Then there’s the cost.
All change comes at a cost; there’s always a tradeoff to be made. The tradeoffs in personal change typically involve giving up the familiar to gain something new. The value of something new is uncertain which makes the idea of change troubling. We’d hate to give up what we value only to find later that the value we anticipated isn’t there.
On a larger scale, community or societal, the costs can be much higher; the change messier. The recent movement to achieve same-sex marriage wasn’t fraught with physical violence, but there were equally ugly verbal attacks on both those seeking legislative parity as well as those who supported that change.
The Black Lives Matter movement is suffering even greater costs. Those who seek parity of treatment for the black community, using legitimate means, are suffering the costs of having their path to change elongated by those using this movement as a means to vent their anger and frustration through acts of violence.
I believe that ultimately the Black Lives Matter movement will succeed in winning greater parity of treatment for blacks, because equal treatment under the law is a right we all possess. That result will be delayed by continued violence on both sides of the issue making this change even messier and costlier.
So where exactly do desire and confidence enter the foray?
Change does not occur without high levels of desire. Indeed, in my confidence programs I tell participants to identify the next 3 to 5 steps they need to take to achieve their goal, then rate each step on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being high, based on their willingness to take that step. If the ratings aren’t all 4s or 5s, I recommend that they not start down that path.
People who drove the same-sex marriage fight, with its attendant rights, and those currently fighting the Black Lives Matter battle are obviously in the 4 or 5 range of desire. As we all know from experience, effecting personal change is challenging enough. We’re essentially battling ourselves. The desire for societal change requires even greater desire because resistance comes from multiple sources. Often these types of change occur, at best, over decades.
In both movements, the likelihood of success becomes more obvious when change is desired by more than the disadvantaged community. I was amazed at how quickly support for same-sex marriage legislation grew outside the LBGQT community.
I’m seeing similar support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Support that I believe would grow more quickly if violence abated. There has to be desire by both sides, the black community and the police, to put an end to the violence that prevent the peace and good will that both could enjoy.
Desire is only one element required for change, the other is confidence.
Desire without confidence goes nowhere. Absent confidence in your ability to effect change, you’re likely to dismiss the idea of change as unattainable e.g. “I don’t have the willpower to lose weight” is a great way to assure that you never try.
By contrast a confident person might say “I’m going to get healthy and in doing so I’m likely to lose weight.” This is a statement not only of desire, but intent. And intent is essential for action.
Those who work for change, especially on a community or societal level, demonstrate their confidence and their intent by their actions. Those who find support outside their community are more likely to effect change quickly than those whose focus is gaining support within their community. It takes confidence as well as desire to ask outsiders for their support.
Whenever you experience change, whether of your choosing or from an external source, pause a moment to reflect on the fact that change is messy and costly. Once you’ve acknowledged the realities of change, remind yourself to evaluate:
- Your desire for the change.
- What the potential benefits of change are versus the status quo.
- How likely it is that the change will occur whether you embrace it or not.
- How you can adapt to the change when effected.
- How to assure that the change will benefit you.
For our kids
Change can be as frightening for kids as it is for adults. Help kids understand that while there is almost always some pain, some sense of loss, associated with change, it’s temporary if they’re willing to look for the benefits they’ll gain from the change.
A natural tendency we all have is to focus on what we’ll be giving up instead of what we’ll be gaining. Using the 5 evaluation ideas listed above, kids can learn to focus on the benefits of change and, in doing so, avoid some of the messiness and costs associated with change.
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