Are you resisting the current of change?
Read the full story ⬇︎
The Magic Ring
A powerful king instructed a council of sages to create a magic ring with the power to make him happy when he is sad.
After some deliberation, the sages presented a ring engraved with four simple words: "This too shall pass."
The king was delighted, for it was an encouraging reminder that momentary troubles are only temporary.
However, the magic ring also became a discouraging curse for the king, for it reminded him that all of the wealth, wisdom, and power he enjoyed were also temporary.
This Too Shall Pass
While preparing an assembly program for a group of 2500 Arizona high school students, I invited them to respond to a brief survey, and their responses were used to create a presentation relevant to their specific needs. This survey included two questions:
I received hundreds of thoughtful responses from these students—responses that talked about anxiety and stress, insecurity and a lack of confidence, fear of failure, a poor outlook on life, lack of discipline, social justice concerns, and so forth. But by far the most common response was this: “I wouldn't change anything about my life.”
At first, the prevalence of this response made me very happy for these students—thrilled to hear their lives are going so well. But then I became concerned, because I thought about the four simple words engraved on that magic ring: “This too shall pass.”
The story of the magic ring is a cautionary tale for anyone who doesn’t welcome change—because whether they want it or not, change is coming.
As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice—for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”
This is an apt analogy considering the nature of a river’s current, which etymologically refers to "that which flows"—as in, a flowing current. However, we also use the word current as a reference to “the present time”—as in, currently happening.
In other words, we are in a state of constant flow, and when we do not welcome change and instead fight the current—whether through acts of omission or commission—this resistance damns growth, sowing seeds of ruin.
So while I am thrilled for those students who believe they are perfect just as they are, I do wonder what they will do when change flows their way. What will they do when they leave high school and everything is different? What will they do 10, 30, or 50 years from now when “this too shall pass?”
Initiating & Managing Change
There are two strategies to use when addressing change and the strategy we use will depend on the category of change we are facing:
Default Changes are the changes we don’t want to have happen, but they happen anyway. Changes within this category are managed:
Design Changes are the changes we want to have happen, and we make them happen. Changes within this category are initiated and managed:
Notice how both strategies look strikingly similar. The key difference is that design changes are initiated before they need to happen—by taking advantage of opportunities (acts of commission)—and default changes are managed in reaction to what happened because we have to (often due to woeful acts of omission).
To promote growth and enhance the chances of success, encouraging leaders engage in acts of commission—by taking advantage of opportunities that lead the way for positive change. By contrast, discouraging leaders engage in acts of omission—failing to be proactive by resisting the current of change, damning their growth, and sowing the seeds of potential ruin.
It’s okay to enjoy and celebrate life just as it is, like those students at that Arizona high school. But even “this too shall pass,” for we are in a state of constant flow, and when we do not welcome change and instead fight the current in favor of stagnation, this resistance damns our potential and prevents positive growth.
To avoid the pitfalls of discouraging leadership, I encourage you to initiate and manage positive change by assessing the flow of your current state of affairs, looking for opportunities, and then engaging in consistent and reflective action to row, row, row your boat gently down the stream—merrily leading the way to individual, team, and community growth.
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach for Hashtag Positivity, helping leaders and their influencers experience joy in their life, work, and relationships. Schedule a strategy session with him today to discuss your challenges, goals, and obstacles.
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination on a mission to help you experience abiding joy.