In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown asks Lucy, “Are you going to make any New Year’s Resolutions?” Lucy responds with absolute outrage. “What?” she exclaims. “What for? What’s wrong with me? I like myself just the way I am! Why should I change? What in the world is the matter with you, Charlie Brown? I’m all right the way I am! I don’t have to improve! How could I improve? How, I ask you? How?” Charlie Brown turns and slips away, muttering under his breath, “Good grief.”
Lucy, born on October 2, 1950, still hasn’t changed. As a cartoon character she has a privilege not available to anyone in real life. But, even though it is impossible for anyone or anything to remain the same, the majority of people still resist change. It has been said that the only ones to embrace change are babies with wet diapers.
Change sometimes comes abruptly, seemingly without warning. At times, it gradually slips up on us and we don’t fully realize what has happened until it has happened. At other times, we purposefully initiate, plan and work toward change. Whatever the manner, change is going to come.
British writer and lecturer G.K. Chesterton said, “Maintaining the status quo is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone then you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone, then you leave it to a torrent of changes. If you leave a white post alone, it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white, you must be always painting it again. If you want the old white post, then you must have a new white post.”
The challenge is to engage in what is commonly referred to as change management. To do this, we have to realize change exists on two levels – in reality and in perception. Take Lucy’s situation. If she were an actual person, she would change for the better or the worse. English attorney and philosopher Francis Bacon claimed, “He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils.”
To get better, Lucy must change her perception of herself. If she retains the old perception of perfection, she will grow worse. If she admits some improvements could and need to be made, she can grow positively.
The focuses of these two engagements are compatible because in order to comprehend and deal with the present and future we need to understand the past. Every now and then, we need to ask, “Where have I been? Where am I now? What has brought me to this point? Where am I going? What is it going to take to get me there?” This leads us to the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com and Amazon.com.