Changes Ahead

“These strike me as universal ideas: about fostering risk taking and creativity, about building a culture of trust, about fueling a deep and abiding curiosity in oneself, and inspiring that in the people around you, about embracing change rather than living in denial of it, and about operating always with integrity and honesty in the world even when that means facing things that are difficult to face.”  – Bob Iger

A friend of mine tells a story of his Grandmother who immigrated to the United States.  She had purchased her tickets from Southampton, England to New York City.  Upon arrival to board the ship in 1912, she was shocked to discover that her papers were not in order.  The immigration clerk who manually processed hundreds of papers that day had inadvertently missed stamping some of her documents.  Disappointed that her plans were thwarted, she made her way over to the White Star Line offices to get a refund and book a trip at a later day.  She had been looking forward to boarding the shiny new Olympic class British luxury liner for the 6-day journey to New York.  Instead, she was issued passage on another liner on a different day.  My friend comments that if that clerk had not made the mistake, he may not be here today.  That beautiful new ship that she would not be taking was the RMS Titanic.

I love setting goals and hitting them. I will sometimes ask myself or others to define the desired outcome when I’m unclear of the purpose or intent of the meeting, project or plan.  Once the target is painted, there is a restless emotional drive in me that wants to map out the plan and see it completed.  But change is inevitable.  Doors close and icebergs appear.  When you want to follow your plan, these impediments are frustrating, infuriating and stressful.  Do we keep the course despite all evidence to turn?  To some degree, ignoring the need to change is like continuing to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic while it is sinking.  We should expect and embrace change in all of our plans.  The very core of the agile methodology says that the journey ahead is full of twists and turns.  Life is a series of sprints, turns and pivots, not a contiguous marathon. 

I confess, I struggle at times with the constant change.  I want to set “full steam ahead” but I’m learning every day to embrace the course corrections and trim settings.  Coronavirus has taught us that plans can change quickly.  Families, businesses, schools, and vacations all have plans and courses to follow, but as we have seen, they can quickly be disrupted and require us to adjust.  Are you facing those troubled and always changing seas right now?  Are you finding yourself unusually restless and frustrated, struggling to adapt?  You are not alone.

These are difficult and challenging times, but life is full of those.  When life places a stop sign, a closed door or an impassable gate before us, plans must change.  Yes, it means change.  But take heart.  It may well be that we have providentially avoided a luxurious journey on a fateful Titanic.  Embrace the turn.  Breathe in the wind of change.  Set a new course and proceed with renewed passion and energy toward the final destination.  Oh, and to be clear, if the past is a forecast for tomorrow, we can predict more changes ahead.  Let’s be ready.