I have said it before; change is the most constant aspect of life. We experience change every day in a variety of ways. From redesigning our office or home space to transforming our lifestyle, change happens to us all.
Why, then, is it so difficult for people to make significant changes in their work world? Why do we seem to be most comfortable doing the things we have been doing in the same way we have been doing them for so long?
Perhaps it has to do with the kind of change and the level at which that change affects our meaning of the world. When dealing with the redesign of our office, it may be a bit uncomfortable and take some time for us to get used to finding things, but it doesn’t cause us to really examine what we believe to be true about ourselves, the world within which we live and work, or our sense of who we are in that world. When we are faced with a change that causes us to re-examine our beliefs about ourselves or our world, perhaps that change is more difficult because it requires us to redefine ourselves and the world. It causes us to change our worldview.
If our worldview is the way we make sense of the world and our place in that world, any change that threatens that worldview also threatens our existence as a being. If what I have come to believe and understand is no longer relevant, perhaps I am no longer relevant. And being a creature who wants to be relevant and enjoys the comfort of the predictable, we therefore, resist this change rather than embrace the unknown of something different. Instead we try to control the change and manipulate the situation to maintain the status quo.
I recall leaving my parents home and going off to college. Upon returning and sharing what I was experiencing and learning with my parents, several long and sometimes robust discussions would happen. After one such long and difficult conversation with my mother, I remember her saying something like the following; “I don’t know what has happened to my fun-loving, delightful son. You have become so serious and so concerned about the world and what is taking place. I don’t understand what is happening to the world today.” (Keep in mind, I went to college in the late sixties and early seventies during the peak of the Viet Nam war.)
My going to college not only had a significant impact on my worldview, but it also was very unsettling to my mother’s worldview. Both of us were forced to re-examine our beliefs about the world and our role in it. My mother could not accept that I was growing and seeing things differently which then impacted my relationship with my parents as they knew it and enjoyed it. They were forced to change their worldview and their role in it as it related to me, their son.
When we experience the work world today, are we being forced to re-examine our beliefs about that work world and our role in that world? Where I once believed that education could only take place in a meeting with me delivering information, perhaps I now understand the learning process better and need to change my beliefs and, therefore, my behavior. My once strong belief that a one-time meeting with me lecturing to an audience may no longer be relevant to bringing about significant change. Instead of sharing information and moving on to the next event, I may now need to design an opportunity in such a way that the audience can experience that information and find relevance to their lives.
I may need to change my worldview and accept that I need to change in order to relate to the new worldview. While this may be difficult at first, I may find through my experimenting with new ways of being that I discover a new and more satisfying life experience.
Think about the significant and deeper level changes facing you. Are they causing you to reflect upon your worldview? I hope so. After all it was Abraham Maslow, author of Towards a Psychology of Being, who said one component of becoming self-actualized is the ability to change one's worldview.
Until next time, enjoy the changes you are experiencing and reflect upon how your worldview may need to change.