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Survival Is Not Mandatory


“Since changes are going on anyway, the great thing is to learn enough about them so that we will be able to lay hold of them and turn them in the direction of our desires. Conditions and events are neither to be fled from nor passively acquiesced in; they are to be utilized and directed.” It’s not surprising that Dewey bases his approach to change management on active learning. Since change is a fact of life, you might as well make the best of it. Learn as much as you can about the changes in your life and then use them, as much as possible, to your advantage. William O. Douglas suggested that success in using change in your best interest depends, in large measure, on adjusting your thinking to conform to today’s reality. “Security can only be achieved through constant change, through discarding old ideas that have outlived their usefulness and adapting others to current facts.” Francis Bacon also agreed that you need to take charge of change and mold it to your purposes. “Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly.”

However, there are cautionary voices as you slide into the driver’s seat of your life. For example, Ellen Glasgow said, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” Distinguishing good change from the not so good is an important aspect of the learning Dewey recommended. Arnold Bennett also raised the voice of caution, “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” Nonetheless, G. C. Lichtenberg submitted what is likely the take home point here, “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”

The substance of your life is in continuous change. The elements form and then rearrange. Some of those elements you can move and shift. Change can be slow or unusually swift.

It’s an ongoing saga through each twist and turn. You refuse to change. It’s not your concern. W. Edwards Deming discovered the conclusion to the story. “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

Now you know so there you go.