This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23, 2009 - meditations on change

"Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job." Adlai E. Stevenson.

People keep telling me that "no one wants or likes change." That's not how I see it.

I used to do workshops that started like this: "I'm going to name some job factors, and I want you to tell me if you want MORE, LESS, DIFFERENT,
or if this factor is ABOUT RIGHT.

* Tools (computers, software, or any other device or technology)
* Hours
* Benefits
* Pay
* Supervisors
* Workload
and so on.

After getting people to vote on all of these, I would ask, "Did anyone vote 'about right' for every question?" Invariably, no one had.

Then I would ask them, "What do you think this talk is about?" The answers ranged from ergonomics to effective supervision to almost everything else.

Finally, I would say, "No. It's about change. And based on your votes this morning, everybody wants it."

But does this apply only to our work lives? I don't think so. Let's see some hands out there: how many of us are at our ideal weight or target heart rate? Spend enough time with the kids? Carve out the time to do our favorite, spirit-replenishing hobbies?

How many of us would be willing to go out on this limb: winning the lottery?

Face it, people. We want change so bad, the lack of it may kill us.

But it's even worse. Some kinds of change we get no matter what we want. We get older, and eventually decrepit. Or die. Either way, it's change!

The fact is that change is the only thing we can be sure of.

So here's what I think. We don't fear change. We fear change for the worse.

What then can we do in both our work and personal lives to change in ways that leave us better than we are today?

Here are a few thoughts from a librarian who both reads and thinks about such things far more than may be reasonable.

* Begin by dwelling on your strengths and your joys. People seem to be happiest when they are both doing something they're good at, and stretches them, challenges them. Celebrate your unique gifts by using them.

* Visualize your future. This may not the be whole "secret" to life, but it is surely useful: start seeing your life the way you'd like to be, and you tend to make choices to get there.

* Seek something the Japanese call "kaizen" -- continuous improvement. Not one big jump into an idealized future, just one or two steps in that direction. The small changes add up.

* Cultivate an attitude of appreciation. I admit it: things don't always turn out the way you'd like. But almost every day, something wonderful happens, if only the slant of morning light, or the etching of a cottonwood branch against a cloud, or the twitter of unseen birds, or a whole display of fascinating new books, or the smile of a child. It's not all about you, but you are privileged to live in a world of surpassing beauty.

"Do you fear change? Leave it here." - sign at coffee counter

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