The Myth of Lasting Change…

…and the struggle to market meaning

Challenging the Core Concept of ‘Change’

I’m becoming more and more uncomfortable with the language I use around what I want to do with my projects. We (let me say “I” here) throw around words without always thinking about them, because they landed with me at some point, or because they feel ‘stirring’, or more meaningful or inspiring than other words.

Plus how would I enroll people if I said I was working on the mundane, the endless, the completely unsexy work of everyday noticing and small actions? Does that sound as saleable as ‘large-scale change’, ‘global challenges’, ‘sustainable difference-making’?

Well, maybe, and that’s part of the experiment.

Marketing? Or Meaning?

I totally understand that we might respond to some words rather than others (and I’m less concerned about the words here than I am about the meaning we as assuming from them.) And I’m still integrating, for myself, how to be authentic and also sound authentic, and, also, connect with someone who may not see the world exactly as I do.

A conundrum possibly? Or, possibly, the perfect example of what I’m aiming to say here.

Which is…

…that everything is an evolution, that we change in increments and sometimes in quantum leaps. But that we exist as part of a complex system, in perpetual motion.

And, that being so, it means there cannot, by definition, be anywhere to get to, a destination, anything at all that looks like sustainable (if we mean it as I think it’s usually used meaning, we will do this and then there will be no need of further change down the line because ‘this’ will be self-sustaining.)

There is movement, direction, and then we get knocked off-course, or onto another course, we re-orient and we move again.

All change is ephemeral. Or at least that’s how it looks to me.

Exciting? Or Disheartening?

I love that. I love that I am in constant flux, that there is a beauty and gracefulness in the swirl of the people and ideas around me. That there is never stillness, and even when I am still, I am still in the way of a restful summer’s day or a quiet ocean.

However, if you live in a construct of the world where there are end points and destinations, then this can be a little disheartening. Like arriving at a false summit when hill-walking — you think you’re at the top, but nope, it’s further still.

And, even though in hill-walking it may look as if there is a summit, and it may look as if you’ve arrived, the reality is more like that one peak has simply whetted your appetite for another, and you’re already imagining the next adventure before the first one is finished.

It’s exactly the same in organisations and projects; we in order to corral resources, and communicate visions and map out a route.

For me there’s both a humility and an excitement to knowing that the is the stuff of life, not the arrival or even the expectation of where it is I think I’m aiming for.

And, maybe I’ll also find a more exciting way to express it ;-).

With love,

Cathy

Cathy Presland

Here to help with leadership and impact. I have lots of free resources , including regular free seminars, if you’d like to explore more deeply or join a conversation.

Originally published at on February 20, 2021.

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