“How did I get here? Somebody pushed me. Somebody must have set me off in this direction and clusters of other hands must have touched themselves to the controls at various times for I would never have picked this way for the world.”
— Joseph Heller
You remember them. As Webster describes, transitions are the passage or process of changing from one form, state or activity to another. Transitions are those in-between periods when it’s no longer the old but not entirely the new.
Now the world seems to be on fast-forward. Today, changes don’t evolve — they erupt. Often the result is feeling like a person sitting safely in a boat on calm seas who’s suddenly thrown overboard with such force and speed that you have no knowledge of your change in circumstance until a cold, hard wave hits you forcefully in the face. Can you swim? Can you make it back to the boat? Is the boat still there? Will you drown? Will you be eaten by sharks?
Things have definitely changed. Welcome to your new world.
As business people, we appreciate change. We even often encourage it. Encourage it, that is, when it’s of our own choosing. It’s easy to feel out of control when the changes are beyond our command. Today, so many of the changes seem out of our influence and often out of our grasp.
Changes are taking place in our industry, our country and the world at such an accelerated speed, it seems before we can understand the latest turnabout that, too, changes. At such times, it’s easy to feel Heller’s unknown “cluster of other hands” touching the controls.
For people accustomed to being in control and calling the plays, not feeling in charge can be extremely difficult. It’s all right for things to change as long as you quickly gain control of each new situation.
Arthur Miller wrote, “An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.” Maybe our “new era” will start with exhausting the illusion of control?
Ridiculous, you say. Control is essential to running a business, to managing employees, to making a profit.
Is it? Or is the need to feel in control an internal boundary that limits creativity, imagination and progress? Could you be a better manager, run a better business and lead a more satisfying life if you loosened your tight grasp and eliminated your need to control every situation, every outcome?
A radical thought? Yes. But revolutionary times often necessitate radical concepts. As Anwar Sadat stated, “He who cannot change the very fabric of his thoughts will never, therefore, make any progress.”
Control should not be our goal, but instead, progress. Changing our attitude will be the first step.