How Do We Cope With Change?

It recently occurred to me that the Y2K concerns disappeared 17 years ago.  Some of the companies we deal with have systems that are far enough behind that it is just beginning to be an issue for them.

Where does the time go?

The next step in the thinking process was, “How much has changed?” Some of it is obvious, like smart phones, broadband internet, terrorism, and the decline of independent news and science.  Ho Hum! Things change.

Shortly after this little thought exercise, I found an invitation to a Microsoft live stream event in my email.  The hook within caught my eye and put some of the recycled brain cells to work.

“Since 2000‚ 52 percent of the names on the Fortune 500 list are gone…a result of digital business models creating disruption in the marketplace.”

260 are gone! In 15 years! Who knew?

The observation is from “Disrupting Digital Business” By Ray Wang.  Published in 2015 and available from Harvard Business Review here.

So what does all this mean?

Change is everywhere and affects far more than we intuitively think.  I would not have guessed over half the Fortune 500 turned over in 15 years. (I still have a bit of a compulsion to check, but I trust Harvard so I probably won’t.)

What does that degree of change mean to me?

The future will be different and probably in ways that seem disconnected from my present-day assumptions. Can I adapt?

I will be wrong if I rely too much on what I know and have experienced. As J. Paul Getty pointed out, “In times of great change, experience will be your worst enemy.”

Change destroys old ideas and replaces them with new ideas.  Maybe better ones. I will err to deny change. Some of it might be good for me.

I will not be able to use ideas about how long change takes or who it affects. One constant I am aware of is “Change changes.” My previously good coping skills may be useless against the new strain of change.

Once I resign myself to the idea that I know too little, my best move is to find someone who does not share my obsolete experience. They at least can sort out the workable from the not workable and can see the processes changing sooner.  Talk to children and grandchildren, they may know things that matter to you. Find a helper.

Be open minded about new things.  I recently saw a thought that said open-mindedness is not about how many novel things you accept as true, but rather it is about how quickly you change your mind when presented with new information. There is little advantage to hanging on to cherished ideas that no longer apply.

Failure to embrace the future and learn from it will leave us isolated.  Perhaps talking with cats and waiting for children to phone on our landline, rotary dial, no doubt.  The world is becoming different and it is likely becoming more different than we can easily accept.  We lose track of meaning and that matters.

There is nothing in the “old” rule book that says we cannot move on.  We should do so. It might be fun.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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