I had chance last week to travel with a friend at work. This is an amazing opportunity. Rather that our normal schedule where we get an hour to chat by phone once a week, supported by email, instant messaging and group meetings, we had several days in each other’s company. In cars, airports, planes in restaurants, in work and cars again. By the end of the week, I felt tired, energised, informed and excited. We had discussed work, politics, health, sport, family, travel…and work again. We had new ideas. Shared experiences. Unexpected opportunities.
As I sat in my final car journey home, I came to a conclusion – not a very startling conclusion I hasten to add – that change does not happen quickly. Or to be more precise, that change does not happen as rapidly as we want it to.
Events happen quickly. Recognition of events as they take place happens even faster. But change – our response to events – has its own speed. And there is an inevitability about this speed.
There is copious amounts of literature on change – coping with, rate of, managing, measuring, enjoying, recognising, inducing…and so the list goes on. If I had more time I would like to read more of these articles…but maybe I am too busy coping and managing…or enjoying?
At the end of my week, and after considering many situations or opportunities I have been involved in, I realised a common theme – that change is ‘complicated’. And that complicated almost always means a lack of simple solutions, the need to avoid unintended consequences, and an overall delicate balance. Again, this is nothing unique to me or our industry – we only have to look at any other sphere of life – politics, health, sport, family, travel – to realise that transformational change is complicated and takes time.
And yes we agreed it’s important we don’t just sit back and wait for stuff to happen. We have to put ourselves out there and work towards our goal, but similarly we can not – nor should not – expect miracles to happen in just one week.
I know this…and yet I still find myself expecting instant success or impact…whether it be my favoured political leader; my fitness levels improving; my favourite team starting to win, my work…or even our beloved industry.
And we also recognised risk. That rather than persevering, we can be too ready to switch to a new goal, a new way of working, or just something different in hope that it might yield faster results. Worse still…that our inevitable focus on what is in front of us leads us to miss the moment to celebrate the amazing distance we already will have undoubtedly travelled.
So as we journeyed together, my friend and I took time to reflect on where we have come from. Changes we have experienced and those we have introduced. Changes we have lead and those we have followed. Successes we have had and scenarios in need of improvement. We realised we are inherently restless to get to where we want to be (and believe we need to be) as quickly as possible. We see so much opportunity and just as much need.
But we also agreed that speed is good but successful change requires attention, resource and support. Big wins don’t happen easily. They take time.
And as we reflected together we realized how far we have come – as individuals, today, as teams, last year, together, tomorrow. We smiled. Indeed we celebrated.
And then we recommitted. None of us are satisfied. We want more and better for everyone around us. We will stay focused. We will celebrate more.