Sometimes the old system is no longer serving its purpose. We may become very fond and accustomed to the way things have been, but sometimes one must face reality — this horse isn’t moving anymore. In fact, it just might be dead. But even then some faithful “resisters” (AKA “laggards”) will still persist in what they have always done before.
We are disciples of John Kotter, “Leading Change” along with his continual release of follow-ups, and Everett Rogers, “The Diffusion of Innovations.” These two specialists of Change Theory have held the greatest influence on our considerations.
Paul Tillich Caution or Encouragement
“Once you break an icon it can never be recovered”
Dr. Tillich was pointing out an important truth about religious traditions (AKA “Paradigm Paralysis”), that the form itself can take a dire hold of our thinking and considerations, freezing out our possibility for imagination and ingenuity. We come to hold the tradition in such esteem that it replaces the original truth itself.
When that icon/tradition finally breaks it results in plenty of anxiety. Some will feel the apocalyptic end of the world and life as we know it. Their mantra cries out, “It’s all falling apart.” Dante’s sign “Abandon all hope” makes sense to them.
While others, the innovators will see opportunity. Finally, some meaningful things can begin to take shape. They are the travelers of Oz who bravely pull back the Wizard’s curtain, the boy in the crowd who announces the Emperor wears no clothes, Winston Smith questioning the truth of Big Brother, the courageous who abandon the blind “automatic pilot” of intellectual laziness.
“Breaking the icons” — is that a good or bad thing? If you feel you hold all the power then it’s a nightmare. But if you seek a life of meaning, truth and excitement then it’s pure hope.
The ability to “Move On” is a most blessed ability, breaking out of the curse of being “Stuck.” Take courage, hope and even joy to move forward and leave behind that which needs to be discarded. After all,
– Once an icon is broken, it cannot be repaired
– Once a mystery is solved, it loses its faith quotient
– Once a card trick is exposed, it loses its wonder
– Once a punch line is delivered, it loses its surprise to humor
– Once a bell is rung, . . . well it does not get un-rung.
Move on and experience the joy of adventure.
“Live long and prosper.”
“You know, if you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, wouldn’t you, at any time? And you would achieve nothing!”
(Interview for Press Association, 5/3/89)
Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.
One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει
Everything flows, nothing stands still
Heraclitus, of Ephesus
(c. 535 – 475 BC)
“You could not step twice into the same river;
for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”
Fragment 41; Quoted by Plato in Cratylus
When men are easy in their circumstances,
they are naturally enemies to innovations.
– Joseph Addison
Hobgoblins in a Rut
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays
ESSAY II Self-Reliance