The concept of “change” as our focus for this issue made me cringe a bit. Change is all around us, all the time. Perhaps more than anything, it defines the times in which we live. But what would I have to say about it?
Certainly, whether in our professional or personal lives, none of us are strangers to change. And I’d like to think that I’m open to change, that I’m adaptable to those things beyond my control.
But I’ve also found that I don’t adapt to change easily until I’ve wrapped my head around how that change will affect me and my world. It’s the fear of the unknown—sometimes rational, sometimes not—that gives us pause. In any case, thoughtful consideration is the prudent response to the possibilities of change. And that’s what we’ve tried to gather within these pages—food for thought, ideas to chew on.
Change is neither positive nor negative on its own, but the outcomes of change can be either. While change is important, so is continuity. And sometimes, after thoughtful consideration, the old cliché, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is the most appropriate response. But most important is the willingness to change when necessary.
In my world, the publishing industry is grappling with change on a seismic level. “The bottom line,” says industry analyst Robert Sacks, “is that it’s never going to be the way it was. And it surely isn’t going to be the way it is. So, the real question is about managing the changes that are coming to our advantage.”
In a related piece, Sacks uses a sports metaphor to illustrate where the industry is in relation to change: “It is barely the top of the first inning and there is only one out.” And that’s kind of scary. But we can’t run around like Chicken Little complaining that the sky is falling.
Change comes, life moves on, and adaptation is critical. But change comes most smoothly when it rests on a firm foundation. "The key to the ability to change,” notes author Stephen Covey, “is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value."
At the personal level, how we handle change is perhaps the key challenge of our time. The ability to maintain tranquility and balance amidst the storms of change is essential to our well-being. It reminds me of the famous “Serenity Prayer”—an overused sentiment, perhaps, but one that retains a universal truth:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.” iBi