I heard a pedestrian shout, “Hey, what are you doing?” I was so focused on listening to my driving directions after paying the parking lot attendant and fumbling for the button to raise my window I did not see the guy on the sidewalk I was about to hit. I yelled back, “Oh no, I’m so sorry.” At which point, the guy looked at me with equal shock. I heard a voice coming from his cell phone. He was not talking to me. In that instant we realized what had happened and both laughed. But for me, it was no laughing matter, it was the second time in less than 30 minutes, I’d almost hit a pedestrian with my car on Friday morning. I was a little shaken.
It was very evident to me I had to change the way I was driving. I was on a college campus and needed to shift my focus from nervously listening to navigation to watching the road and every person in the vicinity even if it meant getting a little lost. Friday, made me think about change. Why is it so easy sometimes and at other times so hard? It’s because there is change and there is transformation. Often they may look the same, but they are very different. Change is something that can be accomplished by assessing the risk of maintaining the status quo and acknowledging not changing is not good, so change occurs. For example, my driving on Friday, the risk of not changing would lead to a news flash that said a pedestrian has been struck and a situation I would not like to be in.
If you find change is hard, most likely, it’s not change at all, it is transformation. Have you have struggled with something day after day, month after month, year after year? Do you can rationalize a reluctance to change with statements like, there is too much risk, I don’t have the time, feelings might get hurt, a friendship might be lost, or it could be politically damaging to your career? Consider it may be transformation. With change, the risk of not changing facilitates a call to action. Like for me in Friday. Not changing would endanger me and others. With transformation, a new question needs to be explored. “What are you getting out of this?” You see, you must be getting something out of the situation, otherwise, you’d change. Transformation has an added layer of complexity that stealthily keeps you ensnared; you are getting something out of it.
Maybe you know the person who gives selflessly to others. They are always there. They will do anything for their friends and family. They are good people. In an unguarded moment, you see they are exhausted. You hear them say, I just want a day to sleep in, something needs to change. Consider they are getting something out of it. For some, it is the admiration of others and the fact everyone regards them as a good person. It makes them feel good and wanted and needed. It gives them purpose. A change to do more for themselves will not happen unless that narrative of what that person gets out of it shifts.
A haircut is a simple change for many people. For me, it was a transformation. I’d wanted to shave the sides of my head for more than 3 years. My excuse for not doing it was my hair is fragile and if I cut it short, to get back to the length I like would take 3-4 years. I’d just brush off the idea and say, I’ll cut it off when I’m 65 and retired. The real reason is, this was not a change, but a transformation. I’d had an entire narrative I wasn’t ready to give up. I associated my hair with my femininity. We’re bombarded with images of women with long flowing hair. Would I ever get another date with short hair? My hair was always professional, no color, no trendy cut, nothing that would make me stand out or my peers uncomfortable. Would the sides of my head shaved be the image of a professional woman? What I got out of keeping my hair style was femininity, datability and professionalism. Then came November with an ending, a beginnings and a moment. I’d recently stopped seeing the summer guy, I was about to start a new job and there was a moment when the stylist asked, “What are we doing today? “I took a deep breathe, smiled and said, we’re cutting it off.
Change is easy; it’s the instance when the risk of maintaining the status quo propels you to act differently. Transformation, often disguised as change is hard. With transformation, your resistance is your vision of what you’re getting out of the situation. Saves happens when you shift your vision and work form there. When you are ready, it is not a change; it’s a transformation, a willingness and desire to embrace another way of being.