the truth about change

Didn't George Carlin have a classic joke about driving? It went something like -- anyone driving faster that you is a maniac, anyone slower is an idiot. So, so true. And actually, the same is true about change at work. The bottom-line is that we're all most comfortable when we're in the driver's seat and controlling the speed.

So, counter to the concept that “people hate change,” the desire for change is fundamental to who we are. We just want to be in charge of change and how it impacts us. We can’t help but observe our surroundings and think of all the ways our processes, relationships, and environments could be better. 

And we crave impact from that change—and not in a static, predictable kind of way. We crave being part of a team and being connected to others. This isn’t an introvert versus extrovert thing, but a recognition that we all need and want to feel part of something greater than ourselves. 

We want to leave our mark by making changes—even slight ones—to our world. This desire is most often channeled through our work but because we’re paid to do so, an immediate, dynamic tension is created. As we arrive at the office or log on in our jammies from home, we become a force driven to make change. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I’m thinking when slogging through hundreds of e-mails each day.

And on that point, what if you’re already feeling overworked and overwhelmed? Doesn’t pitching new ideas just make matters worse? Is it even worth it?

This is one of those cases where the opposite is true. You feel better when you proactively pitch ideas and pursue the changes that you want to see at work because it puts you in the driver’s seat. Conversely, we get anxious when we cede control of our days and stop being the director of our own energy.

All of our organizational constructs—the org chart hierarchies, networks, training sessions, meetings—were all created to tamp out, fan, guide, or otherwise control all that energy. Taking some of that control back can be accomplished by thoughtfully pitching an idea.