How to Embrace Change


Change is the word of the day in America. But the word means something very particular, especially to young people.

Challenge What You Know

Change means doing things differently. For many years, Americans have progressed through their careers and personal lives by doing things a certain predictable way. They moved up along a linear path that took them from one step to the next. Seniority meant that you had more wisdom because you had moved along this same-old path.

The recent U.S. election illustrated how a junior senator upset his senior by taking a different path and being more flexible. The old-fashioned methods didn't work for the older candidate because the younger candidate exemplified a new way of thinking. When he said "change" most Americans got it.

Change Means Doing Things the New Way

The new way of doing things has evolved as the world has become more interdependent and information has become available to anyone with an Internet connection. The new way involves collaboration and transparency. Because the world is turbulent and transformations are coming at us from all directions, it is necessary to be focused and flexible.

We've got to change the way we do things because the old way of doing things does not suit a world that is interdependent and information rich.

Think Like Google

In a special to The Washington Post, business psychologist and psychotherapist Douglas LaBier advises us to adopt the psychology of Google, the Internet search engine. He states that he has reached this conclusion because he "is being confronted more and more often by men and women who are discovering, often painfully, that the attitudes and behavior they thought would lead to fulfillment suddenly leave them at a loss. They don't know how to keep up - let alone get ahead - in a world where the only constant is change and where it seems as if everybody has to be skilled at competing and collaborating with everyone from everywhere about almost everything."

A blog post can be as effective as a Super Bowl ad. A new piece of technology created by a high school student can leave your business without customers. Green businesses threaten traditional business as the potential impact of global warming is better understood. LaBier notes several attitudes that need to be embraced as the Google-like ones that will make us more successful.

Google-like Qualities

Old-fashioned upward mobility depended too much on elbows-up, self-interested climbing. That leaves a climber vulnerable to forces outside of his or her control. LaBier recommends subordinating self-interest and elevating cooperative, unselfish, and philanthropic skills. These are the basic survival skills that our new President and our children will find necessary in order to stay ahead in a future that will be characterized by (drumroll, please) change.

A Google-like person will be able to collaborate and be non-defensive. He will have to be creative and nimble in order to make it to the goal line in a constantly changing environment. He will perceive that he is an interdependent part of the whole. To develop means to be proactive, to grow, and to value positive connections.

Keep Self-serving Tendencies at Bay

LaBier urges readers to focus on what we have in common with others rather than our differences. Abandon preconceived notions. Be a genuine person. Reduce the gaps between your public image and your private reality to minimize the risks of public exposure. Don't react emotionally. Rather, focus on creating a realistic solution that will improve your situation. Think before you act and act in a manner that fits this new world we live in.

New Path to Success

When Barack Obama talked about change, he meant approaching the world with a new collaborative and interdependent spirit. For him and for the audience he appealed to, who embraced the fact that the world had changed and were worried because the Bush administration had not, he offered hope for the future. By embracing true change and acting in a manner that understands Google-like strategies, Americans can address the complexities of political turbulence, climate change, and other tangled issues through indisputable cooperation.

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