Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words
99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2012 Brian Remer
Updated April 2012


Read my new book
Say It Quick!

99's on the 9th


Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

April 2012

Creating Change
Whoa. I just experienced a sudden pang of hunger! Searching the house for a quick fix I find a bag of corn chips and grab a fistful. Munching away, I immediately feel better. The food has yet to hit my stomach but already the hunger is diminishing. Interesting!

So often I worry about making change happen and spend time anxiously waiting for the final result. Sometimes doing anything, just creating movement toward the goal, is enough to get relief, to see progress.

If we start moving, we don't need to have a full belly to create change.

 

You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.

 

There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis:

One of my classes as a college student was called "Social Change" and it examined the factors and forces involved in Chile during the era that the dictator Agusto Pinochet was in power. I had always assumed that change in society just "happened." A revolution was something other people made and if one was in progress nearby, you'd best clear out of the way! The professor for this class had lived in Chile and brought first-hand examples to his lessons but the concepts still seemed purely intellectual to me. Fortunately, this was autumn of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall provided the contrast I needed to see that change happens when many people make many small steps in the same direction. Change comes about when we see ourselves as actors rather than spectators.

When we feel that sharp pang of hunger that signals a need for change, we can hunker down and watch or we can take action. Doing something, creating movement, puts us in control; we feel less vulnerable. Part of what makes a situation stressful is feeling that we are helpless; that things are happening to us. When we act, we are asserting our preference to be participants rather than victims.

Another thing that makes change difficult is the uncertainty about when the stress of it will end and what the result will be. We would like a quick fix. Rip the bandage off rapidly and only feel the pain for a brief instant. Action takes the edge of uncertainty off and gives us, at the very least, the illusion that we are making progress.

In some cases, people are reluctant to take action because they are uncertain about the best action to take. After all, it's reasonable to hesitate when you don't know what effect you will have. But there is a sense from this story that sometimes it doesn't matter what you do. Any action can still make progress toward a goal. Especially when choices and their results are uncertain, any movement is a good thing because it adds a little bit of clarity, advancing one step further through the fog, to see the next step with more certainty.

With this sort of steady, incremental approach even wrong steps are OK. Should I have been eating greasy, salty corn chips or a fresh Vermont apple? It doesn't matter because, if my change steps are small and gradual, I can switch to fruit before I gobble a whole bag of chips. Corrections can easily be made without long term negative results.

Considering all the stress associated with major changes, you may think you don't have the stomach to manage another change in your organization or personal life. But remember, even though we cannot always control a change, we can control our reaction to it by choosing to act.

 

Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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