Saturday, May 3, 2008

A New Post by Stella Rondo

Because one of you demanded it, here's more Stella Rondo goodness! :-)

Do people really want change?

It certainly seems to be a theme of this year's presidential election. Obama has based his whole campaign on that very idea. Hillary and McCain have cheerfully picked up the standard. Change, change, change! Hope for change! Change for hope! I hope I get change! Great slogans all. And it's all crap. Here's why.

The dirty little secret about change is this: What most people want is for the other guy to change, so that their lives will improve without them having to expend any effort. If people really wanted change, nothing is stopping them from changing right now. I'd wager most people want some kind of change in their life. Most will say they wish they were thinner, richer, more popular, nicer, more loving, had a better job, etc., etc. And how you get that way, generally, is stop eating so much, stop spending so much money, stop putting people off with your personality, go back to school, look for a new job, etc. You can do that right now, today, and yet people don't for a hundred thousand different excuses and reasons. So it seems that people seem to love the idea of change rather than the reality of change and the hard, often sacrificial work that accompanies it.

You know this is true, if you listen carefully to Barrack. While he does make a couple of passing references to what "we're" going to have to sacrifice, it's basically the other guy he intends to make change. The oil companies. The government. The terrorists. The lobbyists. The courts. Somehow, simply by his saying so, all these people are somehow magically going to change so that your life will be better. And you didn't have to lift a finger. (And don't think that threatening people with lawsuits will necessarily work - I'll write a blog on the phenomena of "passive resistance" at some point in the future.)

Given the degree to which people resist change, when they say they want change, what they really want is novelty. And there's a difference. As much as we'd like to think otherwise, we're really creatures of habit. We need for things to remain basically the same, day after day, so we can navigate our way around the world. Imagine the chaos in life if something as simple as a red octagonal red sign meant "stop" one day, and "go" on others? Many of you may have experienced "backwards" days in summer camp or school as a kid, and behaving as if things were different or the opposite was fun for a day - but how many of you reverted back to the 'old' way of doing things even before the day was done?

We DO occasionally like 'things' to be different. We like something different for dinner, a new set of clothes, rearranging the furniture, a vacation. And we generally always, after the novelty is over, go back to our old way of doing things, and in fact often look FORWARD to doing so.

So any politician who promises to "change things" is going over time, going to deliver nothing but disappointment. Because until you change what YOU do, change is just a bit of lipstick on an otherwise familiar pig.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Once again with style and grace, you have stirred my humble mind. I agree with your thesis and would only add something I learned from Peter Block, the fabled organization development consultant who said: "People don't want confrontation (read change); they want affirmation."

On another level, when I hear inane political slogans about change, I want to ask the author/speaker to define the term specifically. Change can be good or bad, effective or ineffective, depending on how it is defined and how it is implemented.

I believe that people who blindly recite such political mantras about change (and those who listen breathlessly) are fundamentally morons who are looking for a way to avoid critical thinking or a way con someone.

Ray J