One Good Reason

The Lyric

“Give me one good reason why I should never make a change.”

The Artist

George Ezra (keep your eye on this rising star). Album: “Wanted on Voyage”; Song: “Budapest

The Meaning

Maybe like with everything one can imbue much meaning and a variety of perspectives into a few words. This week, I borrow heavily from friends, colleagues and shared or lived experiences that I hope many people can relate to. A trusted mentor of my wife’s once said to her:

Everyone is in favour of progress, it’s just change they can’t stand.”

In a line of work that I spent the better part of a dozen years working within, politics and government, people are literally paid to come to work every day and give you more than one good reason why you should never make a change; while others inside or outside of government (usually the perceived beneficiaries of the change) can think up 1 million reasons why things should never stay the same.

For businesses, many of the top management consultants and other leading strategists base everything they do and say on the principle that your company or organization must either: (a) change or (b) it will die. Sometimes, this leads to change for change sake.

In business and government it’s all too true that we hang on to what we’ve got (or perceive that we have) in lieu of making possible or even necessary change. Safety, comfort and the status quo reign supreme.

In doing so, as one former Premier of Nova Scotia who I observed for many years with interest used to say, “we reap what we sew”.

Change is inherently risky, no question. But there is risk in everything we do. There’s risk in getting up (or not getting up) in the morning. There’s risk in crossing the street. There’s risk in having too much, or not enough, of something.

Risk, in and of itself, is not one good reason not to make a change.

When it comes to change within our personal lives, they are clearly fraught with different calculations than whether to break into a new market or double-down in the one we inhabit as a business.

The risks or consequences associated with those changes affect our loved ones, so often that becomes the one good reason not to do it.

In my experience it can be easier to admire what we see as courage, bravery, or chutzpah in other people who are making change or changes.

Easier certainly than endeavoring to mentally push-back on the niggling tendency to consider all of the risks associated with some change for ourselves, than we do the risks and benefits of not making said change.

I always smile to myself at the cleverness of the Scaredy Squirrel Children’s book series, which I have read with each of my boys. The author has a very gentle yet incisive way of drawing out the good reasons why Scaredy Squirrel doesn’t want to change through exposure to what happens when Scaredy Squirrel, in many cases unwittingly, undertakes change. Scaredy Squirrel always has (at least) one good reason why s/he should never make the change.

The Dots

1. Pick one area in your professional life, or life outside of your home, where you keep coming back to one good not to make a change. Sit down with a piece of paper, be silent, turn off the phone and write down three reasons why you should. See if you still feel the same after you’re done.

2. Think about a habit you have. Something you do which after you do it, you quietly regret it. Try changing it, or the way you approach it or do it, for just one hour. Then tomorrow do it for longer…etc. At the end of the week reflect on whether it’s made a difference.

3. Venture out of your comfort zone. Just on something small. Then ask yourself – what was the one good reason you didn’t try this before?