Robert Branche in his excellent new book, “les Radeaux de Feu” (in French) makes an extremely interesting point about the fact that entropy – the natural evolution of the universe – is not about increasing disorder, but is all about increasing unpredictability.
His thesis is then that all of nature’s invention – life, first cells, then plants, then animals and ultimately humans – is all about increasing dramatically unpredictability of the world. And it is true that at each step, the number of possible future states increases dramatically. Today humans have transformed the world at a much higher and unpredictable pace than plants have ever done, or than the mineral world has ever achieved.
What lesson does it bear for us? It is clear that unpredictability of our life, of our world will ever increase at an accelerated pace – that is a physical law. And the Fourth Revolution, this inter-connection of humans, will accelerate that transformation even more. We should not be looking for any stability soon. So instead of complaining, let’s rather enjoy the transformation!
She takes an interesting view on the fact that we actually create a Body of Work in our lifetimes, that ties together all our experiences – even if they do not seem connected. In hindsight, the sum of our experiences will make sense. Why not reinforce this meaning voluntarily from now on?
Pamela writes: “Viewing your life as a body of work is not a short-term game. You want to focus on meaning, skill development, professional network development, craft and mastery. There is no one right answer for everyone.”
The book is full of examples of people that change radically their careers and lives and still find a way to bring everything back into their body of work – and expand it further, meaningfully, by opening themselves to new encounters and experiences.
Some would say I am a recovering perfectionist (while I do not really feel that way). I can certainly be very detailed-oriented but can now also let go and ship to the world even if I know it is not perfect. What maybe I did not understand well was the mechanism of perfectionism.
I found a great summary of this issue in an excellent book I read recently. “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect” – so writes Brene Brown in the Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (she is an academic researcher on blame and became a best-selling author on the topic of becoming what we really are).
What she points out is that perfectionism is in fact an addiction that aims to protect us from the outside world – and thus could be compared to alcohol or drugs somehow. Overcoming perfectionism also requires the same tools and habit-forming activities than other addictions, and possibly external help as well.
Being careful in what you are doing is fine. But if you overextend it because you fear what people might think of you, and then you don’t come out to the world, you might suffer from an addiction to perfectionism. Heal yourself!
Change creates fear. Titus said “We fear things in proportion of our ignorance of them“. Hence one of the easiest ways to help people and organization change would be to educate them. While it does work now and again, however, it has been constantly proven that this is a very ineffective strategy. Education does play a role, but it is personal experience at the emotional level that is important to effectively create change.
Fear is deeply emotional. The rational mind can tame some of it, but it is a long and difficult process. Educating people as a way to support change had long been quite a dismal strategy to elicit change (anti-alcohol and tobacco campaigns being good examples), although it is still supported by many rational minds.
Creating deep emotional experience is much more effective. Change management programs should probably aim at creating these emotional experiences as a way to support change rather than over-rationalizing what factors are at play to prevent change.
Creating emotional experiences can be tough to design in corporate environments, but are not impossible. They include leveraging on the connections between people and pushing people outside their comfort zone. They including pushing people to discomfort. Change management programs would need to include these elements but often do not for fear of rejection by the sponsors.
If you want real change, tackle it at an emotional level and make sure to create enough discomfort to elicit real transformation.
We reject inconvenient truths – as long as they stay remote enough not to disturb too much our lifestyles. And so we stay in our comfort zone while disaster is looming further away, and although the consequences might be much more dire in the future.
Change is about looking at reality in the face. Not to over-dramatize, but to be aware of what really happens outside there.
It is not easy and it is not natural. And it is why those that describe the reality of things are often rejected. And why those that create and transmit reassuring messages are popular.
The only way to overcome this hurdle is to create visible change in the life of the people that strike them at the emotional level. There is unfortunately no other way.
Want change without some dose of suffering? That won’t be possible. Just make sure that it is bearable and that measures are in place to overcome the challenge when it will have been noted by the group.