business, innovation, Leadership, Marketing, Uncategorized

Navigating Change

Reprinted from LinkedIn.  The above image is courtesy of a Trends Webinar by Getty Images.

What!?

I don’t know about you, but when I saw this image I immediately loved it.  The child’s expression just made me so excited.  The cool color of the glasses!  The future!   Just think of all the possibilities that this small child was going to experience!  

My enthusiasm, however, was not met with same excitement by the many people I shared it with, in fact, I was even more surprised with their reactions then of my own incredible delight!

“Danger, danger Will Robinson!”

The reference here dates me of course, but it was the most similar comparison I could think of when faced with all the brick walls of opposition I received.  What is our work if not to advance the world to a better place? I thought. Herein lies the future of so many possibilities yet just being faced with the moment of its reality shut down so many people’s capacity to experience it, even if just for a moment. Why did people react so harshly? Could it be that the joys of innovation were blocked by our brains hardwiring to reject it? “Danger, danger Will Robinson!”  I can still see that  robot’s  huge robotic arms waving wildly back and forth.

So What is “Better” When it Comes to the Future?

Let’s google it of course…

I suppose like most things, a definition depends on usage: a verb or noun can make a huge difference. Virtual reality is “life-like”, a simulated environment that is similar to the real world.  Gamers know what I am talking about. Moving your head around and being in the midst of whatever the title happens to be–war, space, a skiing trip down the powder side of a mountain.  It’s virtual, like you are there, but you are not. Cool, very cool.

But is it better?

Can these glasses make a child’s life better, “improving on or surpassing” their life as it is today?

Here lies the difficulty of change.

We move through life, going back and forth along preset lines, mastering tasks, accomplishing internal goals; and then we are faced with something different.  A new path, a feeling, a sound, another way of doing something.  The right brain and the left brain begin to analyze the experience in milliseconds.  Our reptilian instincts are alerted and we stand ready to “understand” what is ahead. Lots of pathways are forging this battle between the right and left brains.  Memories of childhood or a movie that struck you deeply for several days after you saw it.  Conflict in accepting change is not really about logical facts and figures, it is usually based in some emotional response that triggers a memory.  That’s why we break up with the perfect mate, or eat a third piece of pizza while we are on a diet—our memory is flooding us with the responses of what it felt like before. Not logical responses, but deeply rooted emotional ones of pain and pleasure.

Change lies in the hands of those who see all the possibilities, or sometimes, it is born mearly from accidents.  

Either way, change is inevitable .

I like the wheels in the mud analogy.  What are roads to progress, if not the paths paved by pioneers who dared to go in a different direction? Sometimes they were caught in the rain and cursed their choice, and sometimes they just were determined enough to get through the obstacle knowing it would become easier the next time around.

Our highway system is just a paved version of mud hardened ruts in fields where horses pulled wagons.  Someone had to dare to cross first!  And then someone else followed along the path, and then mechanical machines hobbled along those same muddied grooves making their mark on history, connecting us to each other in ways we never thought possible.

Change, when viewed from the rear view mirror always seems like a blessing!

So what about our child experiencing virtual reality through those cool colored glasses? Today this is an advertisement for a new kind of video game, but tomorrow?  Tomorrow it could help millions of people overcome fears of heights, or water, or even spiders crawling on the bathroom wall.  Or how about medical students navigating intricate surgery?  It’s all here now in some form or another, but what about spending an afternoon with your Mom after she has passed away?  Would that virtual moment help us to heal a pain so deep that we might just move forward into a better future?

Somebody has to see the possibilities in order for there to be progress, but more important, somebody has to get stuck in the mud of change if we are to be able to pave the way for a better future. What were all the objections to the picture above in 1910?  Probably many people shaking their heads and feeling  confident that the horses in their barns were the best and only way for travel.  Every great bridge of progress had its celebrity naysayer and we all know how those turned out.

But how do we get people to embrace change?

I suppose that it happens like most changes do, over time.  As our right-brain fights with our left-brain, pulling up memories of past fears and delights in milliseconds, eventually, we imprint upon those neuro pathways the possibility that something  can exist.  And as the two sides begin to pull up that new data our “fight or flight” response isn’t activated and eventually we see things as they are, not as they felt in our memory.  That is why coming together to talk about change is so powerful.  If we can see someone else’s reality, then perhaps our neuro-response might be to just listen.  Then we can decide if their definition of “better” can be shared with ours.  And maybe, just in sharing information, a whole new definition can be created, together.

Change needs ideas, naysayers, collaboration, facts, emotions, and possibilities.

No one person can make change happen.  It takes a collective of ideas to make it take hold. I think that is why I like sharing images that delight me with so many people–even when I know that some of those people will lecture me about the impracticalities of what I have shared. I can see the forest in the distance because I am an innovator who embraces possibilities.  But without seeds being planted along the way there cannot be a tree let alone a forest.  But if I can light just one darkened memory to the possibility of a change, then I know that the change has already begun…and if that little baby has the possibility of spending an afternoon with someone she loved and lost, one day in the future, then those glasses cannot come soon enough for me.

How do you make change happen?

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business and entrepreneurs because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email
mbear88@gmail.com

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