The Up Side Of Change

“People underestimate their capacity for change.  There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.”  -John Porter

I have been blessed with an incredible wife and the opportunity to be a father to two amazing young boys.  It has been an inspiration and blessing to watch them grow and experience each stage of change…except for the fact that it goes entirely too fast.  We have an entire refrigerator photo collage filled with examples that attest to the inevitability that change will happen…each and every day, whether we notice or accept it…it will come.

Change is unavoidable.  Physically.  Mentally.  Emotionally.  It can be subtle as much as it can be turbulent.  Sometimes it quietly works behind the scenes…and other times, it is a commanding, front stage presence in our life.

As our two boys have grown, so have the level and intricacy of our conversations…as well as the variety of topics for discussion.  Which is awesome, since I truly believe that opportunities for our children to learn and discover the importance of serving and leadership are vital for their own personal growth as they move forward in that journey towards manhood.  And it is in those conversations that the basis for those learnings can occur.

Which is why I have come to appreciate their love of movies…especially the many new and  incredible animated releases from such powerhouses as Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks.  While I will admit, at first it served as a great opportunity to catch a few z’s in my sleep deprived world…I have found these movies to be filled with a plethora of leadership learnings to share with our children…if we choose to see and reveal it.  Each with their own lessons…from the importance of working with others, to seeing the greatness within yourself, how hard work and effort can overcome the odds, to being able to to reach out and take hold of the opportunities that life presents us.  There are great lessons to be mined from these animated classics.

Looking back over those many movies, one that stands out would be the 2009 Pixar release of the animated hit, Up…a funny and touching movie that delves into the life of an elderly widower, Carl Fredericksen, a “78-year old who sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America and to complete a promise made to his lifelong love.”  A heartwarming story of a man, who in the face of change, finally decide to take action and realize a childhood promise.

And while the movie sends the message that it is never too late to change…it also provides a glimpse into the lessons learned from a life spent waiting too long.  Often, life offers us a slim window of opportunity to grab hold of change…and if we miss it, the opportunity does not often come back around.

For Carl Fredericksen, while he was finally able to tackle the difficulty of change, it came at a price.  And only after the world had changed so entirely around him that he was left with little to no other option.  We learn from Carl that we can dig in our heels and hide in our own world for so long before change finally becomes too big for us to avoid.  It will finally overtake us and often leave us reminiscing over opportunities missed and lost.

As leaders, it is easy to be frustrated with those who dig their heels in to the changes we are facing in our organizations.  To be discouraged with those who always see obstacles where we see possibilities.  However, instead of putting our time and energy into frustration…we would be better served investing a bit of our time into determining the real reasons why the change is being avoided.  Is it fear?  Or is it unwillingness?  Part of leading is being able to help people through the process, difficulty, and loss associated with change.

When we understand a person’s reasons for avoidance…we are better equipped to support them…and help them see over the obstacles to the possibilities awaiting them on the other side.

As leaders, do you know who the Carl’s are in your organization?  If so, how are you helping them through the many changes that they may be avoiding?

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”  -Henri Berson


2 thoughts on “The Up Side Of Change

  1. David: a great movie and a great message – theirs and yours. We’ve all met people who’ve resisted change (progress?) and this post is a good reminder of our need to not only take time to consider the place where they are standing, but also to check in with ourselves in the most positive way possible: to be responsive, not reactive.

  2. David,

    I always enjoy reading your blog posts, and the topics you write about always seem to be timely for me. You’re absolutely right – the need to find the root cause of peoples’ behaviours/beliefs will help leaders to guide them and help them grow. It’s not always easy, but very beneficial. Part of this requires fostering a culture of positive relationships, where even when we may not all agree, we can challenge practice in a respectful way and be more open to change when there is a culture of respect.

    Have a great weekend, David!


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