It started with technology. Computers revolutionized the workplace, and there's no denying that it made drastic improvements. Frankly, I can't imagine how people of previous generations ran an effective office with things as archaic as file cabinets and typewriters. They managed, but now we're moving at the speed of light, at least in offices. I remember a colleague once saying "remember when we sent out notification letters? It would take a week or more for people to reply to them now. Now it's notification emails and thanks to smartphones, our own phones blow up within seconds of hitting "send." It's true. Things move faster now, and they have more ways in than ever. Is it a good thing? All in all, probably so. Things get done faster and have the potential to get done more efficiently. But notice the adjective that's more active than the actual verb in that sentence: potential. Because efficiency depends largely on effective and (most importantly) wise implementation. And this requires having people that make sound decisions and are willing to learn and grow with the changes this improvement brings.
Yes, technology is ever changing, and it requires people in the workforce to keep changing with it. Nothing stays the same, and now we're morphing with the speed of development. You always have to be willing to grow and learn, to embrace new things and let go of old things that might be comforting, but are no longer effective. The good new is that this change, when done with pure motives and right intentions, is the path to progress. You learn, you grow, and hopefully you take those lessons into your personal life and see what you gained continue to bless your life.
Ah, but there's another side to this, and here's the catch. This is where the shapeshifter comes into play, because the constant change in the workplace started with technology, but it oozed it's hand into other aspects of the workplace as well. Changes in how things are done require changes in management, changes in staff, changes in operations. It doesn't stop with the machines. Integrating the machines changes the people, and the way people operate. It means that we must not only adapt to how the machines help us to do our work better, but we also must embrace how the machines change the human element of the workplace. And this, folks, is where we run into issues, because machines don't have a mind and will of their own, but people do, and they aren't afraid to use it. For better or for worse, and sadly, the tendency to react rather than reflect and act in faith means that this element is subject to lots of rash decisions and acts that aren't always conductive to progress.
I've come to realize that there are two kinds of change. The first kind is the progressive kind that I discussed above. An opportunity opens and it's given thoughtful deliberation and consideration. People take advantage of that opportunity and more opportunities arise from it. Yes, it's hard and it requires change, learning new things, and forging into new areas, but the hard work is worth it and beyond the growning pains come progress that lead to a "golden age" of productivity and success. This is the kind of change we should always embrace, and that we shouldn't fear. Yes, it takes hard work to do new things, but the work of laying that solid foundation pays off when you build something that's stronger and better for a new day. Often, the things you learn from these "hard seasons of growth" can be implemented into other areas of life which spurs more growth and more blessing. It can have a chain reaction. One example of this: My office move 3 years ago gave me the courage and strength to start the process of becoming an independent author. The trials I went through getting those programs moved opened my eyes to every area of life, and I realized that I had spent a lot of years submitting my writing to traditional publishers in a sinking economy that had bolted their doors closed to new authors and weren't listening. "If they stop listening, stop talking," someone advised me around that time (of a different situation, but ...) and one day I stumbled upon a CNN article about how ebooks were outselling hardbacks and the light went off. I dug in to edit and revamp my approach, submitted to epublishers and mixed in some self publishing, and now 3 years and 7 books later, I finally have the foundation laid that I was waiting for someone else to do for far too long. I lost my fear of taking chances, I found the courage to make bold moves of faith on my own, and I finally got the ball rolling on the progress I had prayed for. That success gave me the courage to stand firm, to learn what I needed to learn, and to work with others to make the move successful, and it was. Progressive change at work had a 2 for 1 special in my life: the work move was successful despite setbacks and challenges along the way, and I got established as an independent author.
Ah, but there's another kind of change, and sadly I see it in my life now. It's change born of fear, and this is almost always detrimental. Sadly, progressive change usually gives way to this. Things move along well and people are happy with how it's going, but then something happens that changes some element that everybody was comfortable with. Usually, it has to do with setbacks, challenges, changes in leadership, or an unexpected loss of some sort. People get scared and react. Instead of asking "okay, what can we do to stabilize the situation and are there any opportunities from this, no matter how small, that we can seize and use to rebuild?" they ask "how do we protect ourselves." The motives shift from purity (doing better) to selfish (save me!), and that's the road to destruction. Change is not about progress, but about re-establishing control, protecting the "status quo," and preventing more damage. This is where you run into trouble, because damage control is never productive and that's looking at the situation from the wrong end. I think we all remember Yoda's logic in Star Wars Episode 1 - "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side." That's not fiction; it's face. People get scared and they react. Then they get mad because things aren't working out. Then the anger replaces all semblance of reason, and it becomes a battle. As Loki so eloquently put it in The Avengers, freedom leads to a mad scramble of power. Yep, he had a grain of truth there too. It's scary.
Take it from one that's seeing it unfold. There are changes afoot in an area of my life now, and I find myself surrounded by a lot of fear. It's disturbing. I find myself pondering a lot of things, but foremost amongst them is protecting the progress I've worked so hard to achieve over the past few years. An emerging culture of fear could well do that, at least in this one area, and that means that a fight is on. It might already be on, because these spiritual things are a whole different battlefield. That's one song I do not want to sing another verse of in my life. I pray over it a lot, because I don't want to become another soldier of fear. I'm determined to stand firm and to protect the progress I've made. Fear is the devil's best tool, and by the power of Christ I will stand. I pray such courage will spread to others as well. That's a good infection that we desperately need.
Change will happen, and it can be tough to discern whether you're seeing the progressive or the destructive kind. All change is scary because it usually means challenges, hard work, sacrifice, and learning. Growth is hard because it stretches us to new places, but in the end it's good. And destruction also hurts because, well, it's supposed to hurt. There's nothing good about it and being torn down is a catalyst to find some courage and fight against whatever is trying to undo the progress you've done. In the end, you have to keep your head about you and discern the motives for the change. Pray, meditate, dig deep, ask questions, ponder the situation, and find out if the motive is pure. If it is, then you're being called upon to grow and it's a challenge and an opportunity to accept. If it's born of fear, sharpen your sword and get ready to fight because it's on like Donkey Kong, and you better be ready to stand firm or you'll get smashed by barrels of defeat.
And with that dated and somewhat lame analogy, I will call the point made and the entry done. I hope you have a great weekend and that all of you dad's out there have a Happy Father's Day tomorrow.