Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All Change - Everything's the Same

It was 1971 that my life changed. And then, of course, it changed again in 1980, and then 1983. Oh, of course there was 1993 etc. etc. So - what's all the fuss about change and the need for leadership? It's a never ending process. Things change, and yet so much much seems the same.

1971 was when I met my wife to be, Maggie. we were at college and the old corny stuff about eyes across crowded room came to pass and we've been together ever since. We're both older, maybe not so much wiser, but with a whole lot more experience behind us. So much has changed. On the other hand, not a lot is different. We've had good times and some which have been more stressful; luckily, no really bad times have troubled us. Friends have come and some gone. We have moved location a couple of times, and had to forge new relationships, and some old relationships have faded more than I would have liked.

I am beginning to think that it's pretty much the same in business. The long established companies wax and wane, and the new pretenders come into the market and either thrive or fail. The more successful from either generation tend to absorb or overtake those that do not keep pace. The customers choose on a myriad different reasons just where to spend their money, and that ultimately defines who the survivors will be. Business relationships come and go. People progress, move and some even die.

Through that time so much has changed. Technology has transformed our sphere of influence. I can skype my friends in Australia at virtually no cost. I can see their faces while we talk. I can share information with clients and get their feedback in just a few minutes. I can send, and then amend a proposal, in a matter of minutes. I can create slides, timetables for a new programme and send them for approval to the client in the same time it takes me to type this blog.

We are going to see that capability change even more rapidly in the next couple of years as Apple launch their i-pad and google do their thing with with the next generation of hand held device (it's going to be so much more than a phone, I am told). I can do my shopping in Hong Kong or Singapore,just as easily as I can at home in the UK, arguably easier than going to London.

My circle of frequent contacts now spans the globe, and I have friends literally as far away as they could possibly be on this planet. When I look at my Linked-In network I often find the suggestion that the US President might be someone that I know. Technology has made so many things possible. What a wonderful, technologically advanced world we live in.

Yet, through all this time, however, some things have remained constant. Those people that I value, care about, and would invest my time in, have always had certain things in common. They inspire a degree of trust, confidence and respect. These may be rather old fashioned values, but they matter to me. It's not always a matter of liking people, since I have met people who are likeable, but whom I would trust as far as I could throw them. That, I promise you, is not as far I could have when I was a practising Karate black belt!

Forgive me if any of you out there that are in this category, but I have always had a degree of cynicism around most of those who choose to go into politics. There is a idea nestling in the back of my brain somewhere, that would exclude from office anyone who wanted to become a politician.
There is something about politics that seems to make people compromise on their principles when they need the votes. They seem to feel that being voted into office somehow invests them with a higher intelligence, a greater insight into 'what should be' than us 'mere' mortals. I write this on a day when a few of the worst behaved of our politicians in the UK are in court being tried for fraud over their misuse of the expenses system. This at a time when the country is struggling out of recession. This at a time when they are paid roughly three times the national average wage, and over a period when they have overseen the differential between the rich and the poor increase at a greater rate than ever.

I may not always agree with those I interact with. Nevertheless I choose to be with, work with, co-operate with those who seem to share certain values I hold dear. It may be old fashioned, it may be symptomatic of my age. I still think that old fashioned ideas like credibilty, integrity and loyalty are the things that make us choose the people to invest our own spirit and efforts in. I wonder how long it will be before the celebrity obsessed media will tire of their vacuous focus on those who owe their talents to silicon implants and a willingness to eat insects in a sweaty piece of jungle, and start showing us, and setting us better examples of, what it means to be truly a contibuting part of humanity. I wonder when our politicians will stop thinking of what will get them elected next time, but instead focus on what will be best for the country and the people. I wonder when the ideas behind what we are trying to do within the Differencemakers network will get the same level of attention as the latest celebrity breakup. I suspect that it will never happen, but I can hope.

If we are to succeed in our aspirations we will have to get to understand the power of the coming technology. The technical wizards will develop it and the applications that will run on it. We have have to keep up to the game to ensure we can capitalise on those developments . We will have to master the new methods of communications so that people out there will have to take notice of what we are doing. We will have to find new ways of getting attention and making a difference.

But through all of that, we will have to hang on, with all of our might, to those things that make humanity all it could be. It may not be fashionable to espouse such things as trust, crediblity, integrity, tolerance, charity and even a little consistency, but someone has to do it! Someone has to do it while keeping up with the new technologies and fashions. Technology may change at but deep inside we have to work on that most difficult of challenges - looking after humanity and helping it to develop to be the best it can be! And do you know what? Some of the greatest and most inspiring ideals that humanity has espoused over our time on this planet have been around almost since recorded history. There have been those visionaries who recognised what we might become. It might not come in our time, but someone has to carry the torch and pass it on! Technology may change. The current state of the world may change. Climate may change. Might it be possible that the potential for doing good might not change? Might there be something in humanity that is a yet to be released potential for improving things.

Often we see the best of what might be brought out out by catastrophe. We see glimpses of it when natural disaters strike, and so many people do fantastic things. It seems a logical thing to do what's right when it's a matter of life or death. Maybe the stretch is to make it the logical thing to do when it's just about life. The human condition is still the same. It's just the particular people it's happening to that changes. They come, they go, they move and they die. Everything Changes - Everthing's the same.


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