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The Twister: Change through evolution or revolution

We are living in a world which is changing rapidly. Just imagine, the mobile phones, which were once the status symbol of the rich have become everyone’s gadget. Even grannies living in the villages have mobile phones, a proof that change is now exploding exponentially.

A number of historians and sociologists have expressed concern in recent years about the rapid change, saying the world is changing at an accelerated rate, unlike anything that past

generations witnessed. Sometime back in 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler in his contemporary classic Future Shock once observed that “too much change in too short a period of time,” has its own consequences. In his book, Toffler predicted that people exposed to rapid changes of modern life may end up suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation.” He feared that the need to regularly adapt to rapid changes could lead to feelings of helplessness, despair, depression, uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety and even burnout.

Looking at what is happening around nowadays, Toffler was right as the “future shock” he predicted in his writings, is already here.

Gabe Ignatow, a sociologist at the University of North Texas supports Toffler’s observation saying: “The fear of rapid change is big today. Many people see the changes going on in the world around us and are worried and anxious.”

In his observation, Ignatow added: “Most people can handle a certain amount of change. The problem is, we are increasingly being overloaded with more change than we can handle.”

There are so many factors that are accelerating change in the world, one of which is the advancement of technology. The invention of advanced machines and equipment has brought drastic changes in the world. With the Internet and communication technology spreading like wildfire, the whole world has revolved into a global village and in the process shattering a lot of ancient-old social patterns.

Former US President John F. Kennedy was spot on when he said that “change is the law of life,” and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

While many people sing about change, the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy made a very good observation that much as everyone thinks of changing the world, no one thinks of changing themselves.

The reason is simple. The four Cs of change namely competence, comfort, confidence and control haunt most of us. Change challenges our old competences as there is need to learn or adapt new competences and systems.

Some even lose their confidence when embracing change. Change is also fiercely resisted because it only happens when we step out of our comfort zone. By the way, who wants to step out of comfort zone when such a move means losing control, power or privileges?

The beauty with change is that even those who attempt to resist it are thrown out of their comfort zone by circumstances.

Examples are plenty of so many leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses and individuals that attempted to resist change and ended up facing the accompanying consequences — of being overtaken by change.

The once popular typewriters are now gone. Land line phones are fast disappearing. Camera films are almost scarce. Fax machines are missing in most offices. Floppy discs are redundant. And where are gramaphones? Gone too! That’s the power of change.

A famous English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory Charles Darwin once observed: “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

We cannot embrace change by staying in our comfort zone. Change only happens by stepping out of our comfort zone and accepting the harsh reality.

It is important to note that change can take many forms, but two popular forms are evolution and revolution. One blogger Melissa Stewart describes evolution as “change that happens over time to ensure the survival of the organisation (or individual)” and is usually brought about by external forces or innovations.

She observes that while evolution is slow, “revolutionary change occurs when organisations make radical transformations to their product or service in an effort to be on their game rather than simply in the game.”

Evaluate your situation and weigh whether to implement change through slow-paced evolution or speedy transformational changes taking the form of revolution. By the way, Happy Valentine.

And when your Valentine is someone’s spouse, you better control your emotions.

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