“Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.” — Rumi
Do you know what is one of the greatest enemies of change (and hence growth)? It’s your comfort zone. Innumerable examples can be cited wherein a person was so deprived of growth, peace, happiness, joy, and success just because of feeling safe and assured in their comfort zone. It is a scary idea to think of leaving one’s comfort zone, but trust me when I say that unless that step is taken, no change is possible and where there is no change, there is no growth.
Don’t you feel its ironical when we say that the only constant in life is change itself. Classic example of using antonyms in a singular sentence. But that is because change is inevitable. Every second, every moment you can actually see change happening. And acceptance of this constant change is the key to success.
For me what’s important is understanding the fact that your own prosperity, success, happiness, joy, peace, calm, and the basic purpose of your life is all in your own hands. We keep searching for happiness, finding the purpose of our lives, and we do this while living our daily life in an automated way. We get so used to our comfort zone that we feel that what we like and what we love to do in our lives is somewhere elsewhere and to embrace that unknown, we remain in a never-ending race of life. It's all within, dearies. Do not rely on your sense organs for finding what is inside. Sadhguru has beautifully explained that our eyes can see what is outside us, can they see within us? Our ears can hear what is outside our being but can they hear our heartbeats? Our skin is so sensitive that it can sense even an ant walking on us but it doesn’t have the capacity to feel the litres of blood flowing within us. All sense organs are outward driven so how do we hear, see, or feel what is within us, sense what we like for us? That requires the art of inner engineering.
To understand what is the purpose of our lives, how to stay happy, and ensure our growth, we need to learn the art of adaptability. Once we accept that change is a way of life, we need to change the way we think. Our mindset needs to change and accept the inevitable. I have noticed that we do accept the worldly changes- like the way we were brought up and the manner in which we bring up our kids in today’s world. We accept the contents of films today vs. that of a few decades ago. We accept that the management style of today is much different from that which our parents were exposed to. We accept the generation gap as well as how fast does the fashion industry changes.
However, when it comes to our mindset, that is where the problem lies. We are brought up with a certain mindset and because we believe that is “the way”, we fail to adapt to the new. Domestic issues, man-woman relationship, our children’s way of making friends and their take on concepts like marriage or live-in relationship, issues related to gender equality and gender preference, etc. And funny thing is that we feel pride in our vintage mindset and we say “What can I do? I am old school!”. Really? Do you honestly want to be ridiculed and considered as a dinosaur age individual? Agreed there will always be a generation gap, but why would you want to widen this gap by your denial to adapt? Professionally in our work place, if we do not accept the constant change in workplace, the time will soon come when the management or you yourself will feel obsolete and out of work. Adaptability is the key. Understanding the change and being proactive is the need of the hour.
I know all of you are aware of the stories of Kodak, Nokia, and Blackberry. I don’t want to repeat these classic examples of not being aware, proactive, and refusal to adapt. And the flip side of this situation is that if you do not change or adapt, you will sometimes be forced to! My own example:
I run an educational institution which takes pride in adopting the three popular learning styles within its methodology: Visual, Auditory, and Kinaesthetic. In year 2018–19, a team of tech wizards approached me and proposed the online training version of my program. I was reluctant and not much in favor because over the years, I had developed a brick and mortar network of close to 2,000 training centres in my country. I felt that giving an alternate delivery method would jeopardise the network and create confusions and logistics issues. Come year 2020, pandemic! Within a week in March we were forced upon to develop the online training version and change delivery style across this huge network. This saved the completely closed down network and within just a few weeks, we were back on our feet offering the training through online delivery method. Not only did we change the delivery technique, we also innovated and started online competitions, and championships. After this episode, I became a huge proponent of accepting change, being adaptable, and understand the importance of being proactive and dynamic. Today when the pandemic is over and lockdowns are (hopefully) the thing of the past, we are doing much better business because now we offer our training by both online as well as in-person mode. Scope and reach has increased, revenues are soaring, and there is a bright future to look forward to.
Another way of looking at change is to not only change our mindset, but also change our habits, and actions. We cannot always think of aligning our thoughts and actions with the convenient situations. We cannot wait for situations to become more favourable and then act. We have to be proactive and change our mindset, actions, and habits according to the changing times and react with dynamic attitude. And never think that this would be the final change that you embrace…life is constantly changing and unless you want to be left out of everything or start feeling dated and obsolete, remember one thing that growth is equal to change. Where there is acceptance of change, there is growth. Change is everywhere and the only place where there will be no change is the grave…only the dead do not change.
Another classic illustration of change to survive is in the story of the eagle. An Indian eagle lives the longest in its family of birds, it can live up to 70 years. However at the age of 40, three things happens to the eagle: it’s talons no longer can hold on to its prey, the beak bends and it’s feathers stick to the chest and it cannot fly well then. This eagle is left with a choice to either perish or survive accepting this change. The eagle rubs it’s beak against a rock and plucks the beak out. Then waits for the new beak to grow. Once it’s done, the talons are then plucked off and now waits for the new talons to grow. Finally the new talons pluck off the heavy old feathers and the eagle waits for the new feathers to come out. This process takes 5 months. But after this effort and fighting back, the eagle is back in business and can live for another 30 years!
Change is required to live, to survive. We need to ward off old memories, old habits, and change our mindset. We can enjoy the present and look forward to a pleasant future only if we are freed off the past burden and negative elements. Old habits die hard but they need to die so that we can create new ones.
Thanks for reading! I am ready for a change, are you?