While there are probably hundreds if not thousands of business axioms about the constancy of change, it is never more important than to an organization as it is to an individual to be flexible, to be hunting, chasing new opportunity. While this is especially true of sales leaders and the hunter roles in business development, it is certainly a necessary and desirable trait for every worker.
Heraclitus as a Herald for All Time
So many great quotes have reached us from antiquity and yet many more must have been lost through the ages, but one of the all time best is the phrase, “there is nothing permanent except change,” written by Heraclitus. This simple idea conveys more than an observation, it is also a message, almost a call to action. If you sit and wait, rigid and unready, the change that approaches will not only surprise you, it may overturn your whole situation, and it is very unlikely you may make the best of it as an opportunity so much as you will bemoan the very process, which was in itself completely predictable.
Staying Nimble to Get Nibbles
In his landmark 1998 business book, Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, Spencer Johnson put into parable the concepts required of humans from the earliest mammoth hunters to the modern day workforce; that times change, opportunities which were once close by and easy to come by can suddenly become few and far between, and that the best, most flexible, hungry hunters will always be on the lookout for possibilities and payment (“the cheese”) regardless of sea change, allowing them ample ability to win and grow by staying nimble. The book was such a simple approach, and an easy read, that it reached all levels of business and average readers. I once met a 7 year old boy who told me it was his favorite storybook, taught to him by his father, my friend, a cobolt trader.
In an earlier post on this blog, I discussed the phenomenon that occurs when we plateau and how that is, in my opinion, a necessary part of the process, both physiologically demonstrable in fitness and exercise practice as well as from a psychological perspective both from a group and an individual level. What is important to remember, in the case of the soon-to-be-missing cheese (whether we like it or not), is the fact that those who keep in practice and are adaptable will always be the most likely to survive intact, and possibly thrive, in an environment that requires that adaptability. This is true on a career path as well as at department, division, and enterprise levels. Taken further, the concept can be applied to corporate and market forces, and even whole countries, regions, and market groups like the European Union or the North American Trade Agreement (even to military coalitions such as NATO now working with formerly diametrically opposed nations). The rule here is that by continuing the search for the next opportunity, we prevent the “fluster and bluster” that occurs when change comes. Winners will face that with a wry smile and a knowing grin, already having options at the ready or preparing quickly.