Living in times of change
Almost every article or business brochure you read these days begins with similar
words: "We are living in times of major change". But what is actually happening?
In this article Wim Starink, a professional trainer, will provide some useful
insights that may help you understand better what is going on and how to be
more effective in living in these dramatic times. At the end of the article
there are ten tips on how to remain on top of things and stay strong and fit.
Throughout previous centuries change and development have mostly been more
gradual than in our modern times - whilst there were definite changes, they
took place slowly and less obviously. Building a cathedral or a Buddhist monastery
would take hundreds of years, and they were designed to stand for centuries.
The people who designed and began to build them knew they might never see the
finished product. Imagine trying to promote and finance a project like this
we seem to be living inside an avalanche of change. Computers, globalisation,
a 24-hour economy, telecommunications, cars, airplanes, floating trains, the
blending of races and cultures by the melting of borders, the internet, electronic
banking, heart surgery, space travel, nuclear power - all appearing in one century!
Change is happening so fast that, for example, in the time between buying a
new computer and walking from the shop to your car, three new models have come
out that are cheaper and faster than the one you have just bought.
We are constantly being bombarded with impressions and new ideas and concepts.
How then do we stay mentally stable when everything around us is changing, when
values and principles that have been standard for centuries do not seem to be
upheld anymore, whilst living in a time when politics do not seem to be able
to provide answers to the global problems that we face?
Where to begin?
|There is an analogy for the times we are going through at the moment which
goes as follows: When a piece of land is left bare, within a fortnight it
will become overgrown with small weeds. These are called 'pioneer vegetation'
and will clean up and make ready the soil for the next generation of vegetation.
They do this by extracting oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur from
the air. The next generation of vegetation will not take over from the first
in one night, but will gradually replace the weeds by taking their place
and their sunlight. Graphically this change looks like this:
| Whilst one type of vegetation is diminishing, the other is increasing,
slowly replacing the influence of the first vegetation until this has almost
The human case
A further way to understand these changing times better is in the contrast
between silver and gold, and their different natures.
is found naturally in concentrate, called nuggets, formed over thousands of
years and always maintaining its lustre. This can be compared to the time of
previous generations, a time of longevity, durability and stability, a time
when a 16-year old would begin his working life with the idea that he would
be working in one company for the remainder of his career. He would be loyal
to the company, and the company would take care of him even after retirement.
Silver, however, is naturally found in veins, is more widely spread and has
a tendency to tarnish. This can be likened to the times we are moving into,
times of change, and increasing speed and instability. Nowadays young people
start their first job with the idea of learning as much as they can for one
or two years before moving on.
Companies are restructuring all the time to meet the challenge of an ever-changing
market, regularly needing to make large redundancies in order to reduce costs
and increase profitability. If we compare the 'Silver' time with the 'Gold'
time, we see:
||Slow and deep
||Fast and shallow
||From cradle to grave
||For a few years
||Increasing divorce rates
It is obvious to many that the planet and the human race are in a radical process
of change across all aspects. The 'gold' influence of stability is decreasing,
whilst the 'silver' influence of change can be felt more each day. And this
is only the beginning!
What does this demand from us?
Until recent times, life proceeded according to ways and behaviours established
over many generations. Religion, tradition and social control prescribed how
one was supposed to behave. The old rules and ways no longer seem to apply these
days, and all around us standards are falling and disappearing, perhaps waiting
to be replaced by new ones. Whereas before security could be found outside oneself
(church, job, community), today this security needs to be found inside oneself.
It seems as if these times are urging us to look more inside ourselves, where
personal religion, spirituality, principles and standards are becoming the means
of our stability and sanity. In these times it is increasingly important to
- what is important in your life?
- what is it that you excel at and love doing?
- what do you believe in and find worth fighting for?
These are the gold principles that can help you stay intact when dealing with
the demands of the silver times we are living in.
Ten tips that can assist within these frenetic and often chaotic times
- Be selective about the information that you take in through radio, TV and
newspapers. Everything you see or hear needs to be 'digested' and much of
it is far from the truth!
- Try not to build up financial debts and only buy things within your means.
Financial and other worries use up a lot of energy and limit your freedom
to think for yourself.
- Mix with people who think and feel the way you do. Read good books and try
to form your own perception of what is happening in the world.
- Take good care of yourself and the people that are dear to you. Healthy
food, regular exercise and good humour will help keep you strong and fit.
- Generate as much as you can in areas that you are inspired about. When you're
full of life and inspiration there's less room in you for negative thoughts,
and this will improve your well-being.
- Begin every day with 15 minutes for yourself, in which you think about what
you want to be, do and achieve that day, based on what you find important
and of value in life. It will help your determination for the rest of the
- Keep it simple. Things are what they are. The way of the world today tends
to make simple things complicated. Remember that the truth is always simple
and deep, and try to work things out for yourself.
- Remember that there are always others who are less fortunate than you, and
try to help others where you can. Life is richer for this and it will strengthen
- Work out what you don't want in your life, what you don't want to happen
to you and what you don't want to support, and try to live your life accordingly.
- You alone are accountable for your life. Don't let others dictate what you
should do, and don't blame others for what is happening to you.
are living in extraordinary times, where more is possible than ever before.
It may seem on occasions as if everything that previously could be relied upon
is breaking down - and it is. However, we have the opportunity to build a new
world together and a new way of life, providing, that is, that we are each prepared
to change to meet the requirements of these new times.
Wim Starink is a trainer of communication skills, conflict management, stress
management and leadership development. He combines his experience in business
with his own researches on personal development to help people cope with the
pressures of these times and improve their personal effectiveness.