Friday, July 18, 2008

Change or Die. Second chances are few and far between.

When I was about 18, I was driving my very first car -- an olive green '69 grand prix -- home late one Sunday night when I fell asleep at the wheel only to wake up finding myself going up a hill at 45mph in the oncoming traffic lane with the nose of a semi-truck right in front of me. Miraculously, he was able to swerve over toward the lane I should have been in and I stayed out of the ditch, missed a mailbox and came back only to clip my right front fender on his 18th wheel. He didn't stop. There was little damage to my car. So I went home to wake up my parents to let them know that I was alive.

A couple weeks ago my uncle, my last relative alive besides my two siblings, was feeling ill. It was a Sunday night after attending a car show so he went to the emergency room only to find that he was quickly on the road to a major heart attack due to 90% blockage -- so they stabalized him, sent him home to get his paperwork finalized and performed triple bypass surgery a couple of days later.

We both got second chances at life. But for my grandmother who died of bone cancer at 56, for my father who went out running one hot day and passed out and into a coma and died over a year later at 52, and for my mother who died recently of lymphoma brain cancer, they didn't. Nor did a friend's baby who died recently after only 8 months on this planet. "Life is short" takes on new meaning to anyone who's had a second chance -- or has been close enough to someone who didn't.

Change is difficult, whether it's quitting smoking as my uncle has had to do or simply changing our thinking to wake up out of our comfort zones. In business, organizational change is something we have to continually work at. And with this economy, and how the world will be changing in the next few years, we are forced to change more than ever.

The title of this post links to a Fast Company article written in May '05 - entitled "Change or Die" which offer some different perspectives that are still relevant today -- perhaps more so.

There's also a short ebook that you can buy from that is a summary of Robert Quinn's books on deep change. It's titled "Deep Change or Slow Death" and has some interesting thoughts on this subject as well.

All of us are faced with changes we have to make in our lives or our businesses in order to survive. Change is hard, yes. But we really don't have a choice. Embracing change is the best thing we can do as we may not get that second chance. Leading change by being the catalyst for it is the role that each of us must play with as much passion and emotion as we can muster in order to change behaviors, thoughts and patterns. Each of us has to be committed to creating changes in both our lives and our organizations because if we're not changing, we're dying. There's really no in-between. It's just a matter of time.

I almost got hit by a Mac truck; don't let it happen to you. It's time to wake up. Today.

Note: I wrote this one week before Randy Pausch passed away. Please be inspired by Randy's strength, character and truth as depicted in "The Last Lecture" book or video -- or by his Time Management lecture. There is never a time when we shouldn't be doing something meaningful with our lives.
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