Flexibility in Accepting Change Helps to Move Us Forward on Our Life’s Journey

by on May 3, 2011

Flexibility in Accepting Change Helps to Move Us Forward on Our Life’s Journey


President Barack Obama has done many speeches in his career which have touched on the topic of change.  One speech that he gave in 2005, as part of a 65th birthday tribute to Congressman John Lewis, was one of his earlier oratories referencing the topic.  John Lewis was a civil rights leader in the 1960’s who peacefully marched in the name of voting rights for the citizens of Alabama.  He and his fellow marchers faced violent attacks against their efforts.  However, the entire group persevered for a cause in which they believed, which ultimately led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

During the birthday tribute to Lewis, as part of his speech, Obama uttered the words which make up this month’s quote.  Those words are, “…change is never easy, but always possible.” The purpose of this blog is not to discuss political philosophy.  Whether you agree with President Obama’s policies or not as they relate to how he chooses to lead the United States, I ask you to focus on the words themselves and the theme behind them.  As with all the monthly quotes that have already been featured on the Absolute Transitions website in 2011, and those remaining to be shared, their purpose is to provoke thought and share ideas.  This month’s quote centers on the theme of flexibility.

As the quote says, change is not easy.  It moves us often out of our comfort zone.  We’re asked to do things either differently than before, or accept concepts or ideas that are not in line with what we were taught to believe.  However, what may work for us, may not work for another.  Their methods or style of doing things may not match to our own.  And, while it may be our thought that things would be fine as long as the other person changed their ways or thoughts, the reality is no one really has the power to change another.  For true progress to be made, and for solutions to be forged, multiple parties in a conflict need to consider the overall situation and be willing to accept things from the viewpoint of others in order to truly move forward.

Think of any major disagreement with which you have either been involved, or have witnessed.  What are some of the characteristics that one sees?  Usually, there is a lot of posturing for one’s point of view.  There is disdain for the other side’s viewpoint.  Focus is on what the other side will do differently as opposed to one’s own side.  When such conflicts are resolved it usually happens when both sides are flexible enough to agree on common issues.  There may be compromise on points from both sides in terms of accepting what is desired by other side, so as to generate progress in the situation.  And, while the negotiation process can be very difficult to get through, by providing some sense of flexibility new realities emerge.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out that much of what goes on in terms of change occurring in the negotiations between two different sides in a disagreement, happens to the same extent when we have our own internal conflicts involving change.  Inflexibility, or saying that I can never do something a certain way, takes the place of posturing.  Using a new approach to address an issue can appear to be disdainful, as if something horrible will happen if the situation is approached differently.  Moving forward, while requiring a change in behavior often requires small steps and experimenting with new approaches, as opposed to completely changing the way one addresses the situation at hand.  As human beings our tendency is hardwired to resist change.  However, no matter our resistance, history shows that it will occur around us, whether we have that resistance or not.

However, being resistant does not have to mean not being accepting.  When we open ourselves up to the fact that there may be other ways to approach a situation or view something as being right, we begin allowing the flexibility for a more open world to enter into our lives.  We may not agree with everything that happens around us.  We may have our comfort on how we approach an issue and that works for us.  However, we really make progress when we don’t let the other person’s viewpoint add to our stress in living our life.  There will be a number of different experiences on our life’s journey.  Our ability to accept them for just that, experiences, as opposed to indisputable rights or wrongs, helps us to move forward and also those around us.

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