Evolve or repeat; change or die; don’t look back; inhale the future, exhale the past; be proactive. Do those phases look familiar? I bet they do. We’re inundated with reminders and recommendations about change, improvement, and moving on.
It’s been a while, probably fifteen years at least, but I’ll always remember the moment when I first saw the words: Change or Die. I had l seen them before, but this time was different. The title of an article, they were capitalized, and the font was large. The students were taking a test, and I was reading updates on the computer. I glanced up at the class immersed in their work and then began reading.
“Change or Die” referred to businesses that refused to get with the program, so to speak, those who continued to follow traditional ways of attracting and keeping customers. The author of the article advised that unless they began to become internet savvy and keep up with the changing times, they would soon become defunct. Although I already knew this to be true, there was something about the title that forced me to sit up straight and take notice.
I walked through a huge Sears store a few weeks ago and recalled the days when such stores were bustling with customers in all departments. On this day, I was one of three people walking through the aisles, and truthfully, I was there because I was trying to get a walk in. I thought things would surely be better when I got to the tools area, but no. Row after row of Craftsman air movers, garage door openers, hook sets, work benches, pocket planes, saws, tool sets, wrenches, and drills lined the shelves. The two employees stood talking to each other, and I wondered if they did that all day, every day.
I thought of the days when my children delightedly pored over the Sears catalogue choosing Christmas gifts. The huge books were even used as seat elevators when little ones couldn’t reach the dinner table. I’d love to see one of the catalogues today. Who could have foreseen their end? Who could have predicted the popularity of Amazon? Not I.
I recall when the college where I worked began online instruction. Excited about the possibilities, I jumped on the bandwagon. When some naysayers resisted, one administrator was overheard saying, “This train is leaving the station. Climb aboard or be left behind.” There seems to be a lot of jumping, leaving, and climbing in this paragraph, but I’m not a good enough writer to write without a cliché or two. Those terms imply action and change.
For the record, the students mentioned above were taking the test on their computers, one of my first forays into paperless tests. A younger colleague mentioned that he planned to go paperless with just about everything work-related, and he graciously volunteered to be my mentor. As a retiree, I’m still teaching online classes. There are virtual schools everywhere. Teaching has changed, and if I hadn’t adapted, well, you know.
Change or die applies to just about every facet of a person’s life. From relationships and health to work and leisure, change is necessary to move forward. As I type this, I’m listening to a playlist of my most played music on Alexa. She (funny that the device is female) selected the music based on my requests from the last several weeks, and this afternoon I’m enjoying Gregorian chants and selections from Fiona Apple and Bonnie Raitt.
Change or die are words that still resonate with truth. Because of the willingness to change, I can still teach courses although officially retired. Because of COVID, virtual learning offers educational opportunities unheard of fifteen years ago when I read “Change or Die.” Not only can students earn degrees from colleges and universities across America, they can also take classes such as those offered by MasterClass and learn how to write, cook, dance, do yoga, take beautiful photographs, play musical instruments–to name a few. Right now, I’m learning about character development from Amy Tan.
Change or die. Evolve or remain stagnant. It’s your choice. As for me, it’s time for a MasterClass lesson on revision from Amy Tan.
What can you do today (why wait until tomorrow?) to change your thinking, attitude, or behavior?