Change Everybody Loves To Hate

I thought this saying from a colleague was really astute.

“Everybody hates the status quo

but nobody wants to change.”


How’s that for a conundrum. 


The question is are we more unhappy with the dysfunctional way things are or are we more afraid to make the necessary changes in our life?


I think that when the pain and dysfunction of the status quo are greater than the fear and inconvenience of changing, only then will people quite resisting and adapt to the new reality. 


Welcome to change!  😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Walking Tall Again

CNN has a video out today on this amazing new technology for paraplegics.

It is a miraculous robotic exoskeleton called the ReWalk by Argo Medical Technologies in Israel.

The inventor, Dr. Amit Goffer, is himself quadriplegic and asked a simple question, “Why is a wheelchair the only answer for those with spinal injuries?”

He challenged the status quo and now there is a way for paralyzed people to stand and walk again.

I choose this video for the blog, because I found it so immensely inspiring to see someone previously wheelchair-bound participating in a marathon in Tel Aviv this year.

The ReWalk is strapped on and has motorized joints and sensors and a battery pack.

When combined with some braces, a person has mobility again on their feet!

I cried when I saw the patient, Radi Kaiuf go over the finish line after walking 10 kilometers with the ReWalk and everyone, including the children on the sidelines, cheering for him.

Congratulation to all the researchers from the Technion University who helped make this a reality–hopefully people around the world, who are in are in need, will be able to benefit in the future and walk again.

Truly, mobility is life! 😉

The Status Quo, No!

The Status Quo, No!

Two more articles, this time in Fast Company (Sept 2013) are pointing to the unhappiness of people and the desire to change things.

The first “You Sign, Companies Listen,” about Change.org, “the world’s petition platform” that now has 40 million users launching as many as 1,000 petitions a day. Now the site is allowing organizations to respond to petitions publicly and also has a “Decision Maker page,” which shows organizations all the petitions against them.

Change.org focuses on “personal issues with achievable solutions,” especially personal stories of injustice. The site is about a carrot and stick approach. Organizations can choose to listen and respond positively to their constituents legitimate issues or “there is a stick” if they don’t engage with the hundreds of thousands and millions of petitioners.

A second article, “Not Kidding Around,” about DoSomething.org, which “spearheads national campaigns” for young people interested in social change. Their values are optimism for a sense of hope, rebellion meaning the rules are broken and needs to be rewritten, and empathy to feel others pain so we can change things for the better.

There is a notion here that the youngsters “have no faith that Washington politicians can solve this problem.” These kids feel that “the world is in the shitter” and they want to help create social change.

It is interesting to me that despite our immense wealth and technological advances or maybe in some cases because of it–creating a materialistic, self-based society–that people are disillusioned and looking to restore meaning, purpose, and social justice.

Things have got to mean more than just getting the latest gadget, blurbing about what you had for lunch on twitter, or accumulating material things (homes, cars, vacations, clothes, shoes, bags, and more).

People can’t live on materialism alone, but are seeking a deeper connection with G-d and the universe–to make peace with our creator and with each other and create a better world where we are elevated for helping others, rather than just taking for ourselves.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Go Safe or Go For It?

In_it_to_win_it

I came away with some thoughts on risk taking watching this scene from the movie “Lies and Alibis.”

The girl says: “Simple is boring.”

The guy answers: “Boring is safe.”

The girl responds: “Safe is for old people.”

(Note: nothing personal here to the elderly. Also, hope I didn’t get the who said which thing wrong, but the point is the same.)

Take-a-way: Very often in life we aren’t sure whether to take a risk or not. Is it worth it or is it reckless? And we have to weigh the pros and cons, carefully!

– We have to ask ourselves, where’s the risk and where’s the reward?

We have to decide whether we want to try something new and accept the potential risk or stay stable and go safe with the status quo that we already know.

At times, staying with a bad status quo can be the more risky proposition and change the safer option–so it all depends on the situation.

– We also have to look at our capabilities to take chances:

For example, in terms of age appropriateness–it can be argued that younger people can take more risk, because they have more time to recover in life, should the situation go bad.

At the same time, older people may have more of a foundation (financial savings, built-up experience and education, and a life-long reputation) to take more chances–they have a cushion to fall back on, if necessary.

– In the end, we have to know our own level of risk tolerance and have a sense of clarity as to what we are looking for and the value of it, as well as the odds for success and failure.

It’s a very personal calculation and the rewards or losses are yours for the taking. Make sure you are ready to accept them!

Finally–always, always, always have a plan B. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Smart Cats Aren’t Afraid to Innovate

Smart_cats

It’s really hypocritical that on one hand we put innovation on a pedestal, but on the other hand, we tend to nix new ideas.

The Atlantic (July/August 2012) has an article called “Let’s Cool It With the Big Ideas.”

The author, P.J. O’Rourke, rails against innovation, saying: “I don’t have a big idea, and I don’t want one. I don’t like big ideas.”

Let’s just say this article by O’Rourke proves his point and not only about big ideas.

Unfortunately, like O’Rourke, many in our society seem to have a love/hate relationship with innovation.

We love new ideas when they work to our benefit–like having a smartphone perhaps–but we fear the worst about failing and people seem to loathe change of any kind until it’s a “proven entity.”

Hence as O’Rourke points out the derogatory feelings and sayings about new, big ideas:

– What is the big idea?
– You and your bright ideas.
– Whose idea was this?
– Me and my big ideas.
– Don’t get smart with me.

The last one is really the clincher with it all–without new ideas and the bravery to explore them, our “smarts” really do go out the window.

This is reminiscent of when the great Library of Alexandria burnt to the ground almost 2,000 years ago, destroying many of the “new ideas” of the philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, poets, and playwrights of the time, leaving us for centuries stuck in the Dark Ages!

Sure, new ideas are threatening to old ways of thinking and doing things, but we are an evolving species–stagnation is death.

According to Harvard Business Review (October 2010) in “How to Save Good Ideas“–a more enlightened article here, explains how to counter fearful and destructive people “who try to kill ideas” using “fear-mongering, delay, confusion, and ridicule.”

Some of the suggestions to counter the naysayers:

– When they attack you for “dictating” a new idea–you can explain that there is a vetting process, but like with a train conductor, we need to provide direction for our people.

– When they say, no one else is doing this–for any new idea, someone has to be the first to try it, and we have the capacity to innovate and succeed.

– When they criticize your timing–acknowledge that you can’t do everything and the poor projects should be weeded out, but promising new ventures should proceed.

From a leadership perspective, we cannot shove new ideas down people’s throats, but rather we need to explore ideas openly and honestly. Leaders should explain the imperative for change, explore organizational and market readiness, look at costs and benefits, mitigate risks, and help people in adopting and adapting to change–and this last one can be the most difficult.

For those that are comfortable with the status quo or afraid of what change may mean to their jobs, status, and security–there are times, when reassuring and working together can move people and the organization forward, but there are also times, when perhaps the person-organizational fit may no longer be right, and it is time to part ways.

The way we do things today–no matter how comfortable–is not the way we will always do them.  Times change, challenges build up, opportunities emerge, and as survivors, we either adapt or fade into the annals of history.

“There is more than one way to skin a cat,” but if we are cool to new ideas, the cat will most definitely get away from us–and it may be for good.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ivo Kendra)

The Winning Move

Think_outside_the_box

My daughter sent me this amazing picture portraying how we can “think outside the box.”

How many of us would ever have envisioned this as a possible solution to this age-old children’s game?

Important lesson learned–it’s okay to think differently, be creative, even change the rules when you can get a better result.

Groupthink drives so much–toomuch–of what we do at work, politically, and more.

Often, we can do better when we question the status quo and give things a fresh look–without the colored lens on of how things should be, have always been, or need to be done.

With the huge challenges we face as a nation and globally, we need to open ourselves to new solutions to old and emerging problems.

Like a simple tick-tac-toe game, the winning move may simply be right outside the box. 😉

(Source Photo: LOL Pics)

Finding Better Ways

Why_do_we_do_it_that_way

Saturday Night Live had a funny skit last week about people in the future looking back at us in 2012 as “digital pioneers”–and how silly many of the things we do today looks from the outside.

Here are some examples that may resonate with a lot of you:

– Driving–We drive 1-4 hours a day and “are okay with that.”

– Email–We boot up our computers, go to the Internet, log unto to our accounts, and send an email and think that “was so easy, fast, and convenient.”

– Clothing–We get dressed in underwear, shirts, pants, belt, socks, shoes, tie, and wrap it all under a jacket and feel that it’s “not way too many pieces.”

– Bathrooms–We have bathrooms in our homes and have it close to where we eat and that “seems smart to us.”

There were other examples making fun of us eating fruits and vegetables, keeping domesticated animals in our homes, and thinking that living to the age of 91 is old.

While we don’t know exactly what the future will look like, when we look at our lives today “under the microscope”–things really do sort of appear comical.

I believe that we really do need to look at ourselves–what we do, and how we do it–with fresh eyes–and ask why do we do that? And are there alternatives? Is there a better way?

Too often we believe that the way things are–“is simply it”–when if we would just think how this would look to someone 100 years from now, perhaps we would be quicker to open our eyes to other options and innovations.

It reminds me of the story in the Torah (Numbers 22) where Balaam is sent to curse the Jewish people but ends up blessing them. In this story the donkey that he is riding on refuses to proceed, because it sees an angel in front of them. Balaam does not see the angel and beats the donkey thinking that was the right thing to do. G-d then miraculously gives the donkey the power of speech and the donkey complains about the harsh treatment from Balaam, and G-d opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, at which point he understands that the donkey really saved his life.

This Biblical story is similar to our lives where we go along sort of blind to the realities right in front of us, and not only that but we keep pushing forward along the very same route not seeing the obstacles or other alternatives that may be better for us.

While we (generally) don’t have donkeys talking back to us with feedback or the ability to see angels, I think by sensitizing ourselves more, we can open ourselves up to question the status quo and break the paradigms that we just take as givens.

So when we do get to the next 100 years out–it’ll truly be a lot better than today and without the traffic! 😉