Then, pointing to a newly recruited, retired pro-football, he asked, “If a football team isn’t winning, what happens? The players are replaced. Right?”
The question hung heavy for a few seconds; then the ex-football player answered, “Actually, sir, if the whole team was having trouble, we usually got a new coach.”
Change and no one can escape from it. After all, the permanent thing in this world is change. The beautiful flower you see today will wilt tomorrow. The little child you are holding now will be a huge man or beautiful woman years later. It may be sunny in the morning but sudden rain may pour in the afternoon.
Leon Kulikowski once pointed out: “The people who usually get the most out of life are those who are prepared to roll with the punches… those who recognize the fact that they can’t afford to become static and stagnant. The ability to adapt to new conditions is particularly important today. We have never lived in times when change has been more swift in almost every area of our lives.”
But the question is: are you ready? Resistance to change is universal. Remember the story of Galileo? With his telescope, he proved the theory of Copernicus that the earth was not the center of the universe. The earth and the planets revolve around the sun. Yet, when he tried to change people’s beliefs, he was thrown into prison and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
This brings us to the words of Marie Fraser: “Little men with little minds and little imagination jog through life in little ruts, smugly resisting all changes which would jar their little worlds.”
In the 1940s, the Swiss watch was the most prestigious and best quality watch in the world. Consequently, 80 percent of the watches sold in the world were made in Switzerland. In the late 1950s, the digital watch was presented to the leaders of the Swiss watch company. They rejected this new idea because they already had the best watch and the best watchmakers. The man who had developed the digital watch subsequently sold the idea to Seiko.
In 1940s, Swiss watch-making companies employed eighty thousand people. Today, they employ eighteen thousand. In 1940, 80 percent of the watches sold in the world were made in Switzerland. Today, 80 percent of the watches are digital.
The story, which appeared in ‘Parables,’ represents what happens to institutions and people: We choose to die rather than choose to change. “The world hates change; yet it is the only thing that has brought progress,” Charles Kettering once observed.
Indeed, that is very true. “We can benefit from change,” Warren Wiersbe said. “Anyone who has every really lived knows that there is no life without growth. When we stop growing, we stop living and start existing. But there is no growth without challenge, and there is no challenge without change. Life is a series of changes that create challenges, and if we are going to make it, we have to grow.”
We want other people to change but never ourselves. At times, every person feels like Peanuts’ Lucy when she was leaning against a fence with Charlie Brown. “I would like to change the world,” she said. Charlie Brown asked, “Where would you start?” She replied, “I would start with you.”
Perhaps we can learn a lesson or two from this revelation of a Middle-Eastern mystic: “I was revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’ As I approached middle age and realized that my life was half gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me, just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’ Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this right from the start, I would not have wasted my life.” (This comes from ‘Stories and Parables for Preachers and Teachers.’)
Sometimes, we want to change but we abhor people who tell us what we have to change with our lives. At one time, a friend of author John Maxwell made a list of New Year’s resolutions. Among those written in the list were the following: be nicer to people, eat nutritious food, be more giving to friends, cut down on sweets and fats, and be less critical of others.
Maxwell’s friend showed the list to him. He was quite impressed since they were great goals. “But,” he asked her, “do you think you’ll be able to meet all of them?” She answered, “Why should I?” This list is for you.”
If you were in Maxwell’s shoes, what would be your reaction? Washington Irving reminds, “There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse. I have founding traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.”
Yes, we have to accept change – and never resist it. “Welcome change as a friend; try to visualize new possibilities and the blessings it is bound to bring you,” Alexander de Seversky advised. “If you stay interested in everything around you – in new ways of life, new people, new places, and new ideas – you’ll stay young, no matter what your age. Never stop learning and never stop growing; that is the key to a rich and fascinating life.”
I also like what poet Edwin Markham once wrote: “For all your days prepare, / And meet them ever alike: / When you are the anvil, bear— / When you are the hammer, strike.” Hope you agree with him on what he said.
However, there is only one thing that never changes: history. As one sage puts it, “History repeats itself.” Now, if you don’t like to be changed at all, you are most likely to be part of history. In other words, when you’re through changing, you’re through.