the more things change the more they stay the same

First.

 

Because of the business I am in (marketing advertising business consulting) I am constantly inundated with the buzzwords associated with the “new and unique” … and all the pontificators who spout them … and how people are constantly suggesting the world is changing – like it has never changed before.

 

 

Second.

 

Because of the age I am at  …. I am constantly inundated with how people of my generation suggest <state> how today is more difficult for people than ever before.

 

I admit.

 

I kind of chuckle when I hear all this.

 

I often seem to create a maelstrom of conversational misery when I state things like “change is the constant companion of every generation” … or say something like “it isn’t any more difficult for this generation it is just different.”

 

Frankly.

Most people my age think I am nuts when I say it.

 

Shit.

Most people any age.

 

Or think I am out of touch with what is happening around us.

 

Ok.

 

 

If I were sensitive, I would care.

 

Or more likely I would care if I didn’t find quotes like this.

 

 

“… my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age in which we live. No nation can now shut itself from the surrounding world and trot around the same old path of its fathers. A change has come over the affairs of mankind.  … intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.”

 

 

child spirit adultThis sure sounds like something you may have heard on CNN or BBC from someone talking about what is happening in the Middle East or Russia.

 

Or maybe on CSPAN talking about the shifting global economy.

 

But.

 

Think 1850 (or abouts).

Think Frederick Douglas in a speech in NYC.

 

Think about the fact that each generation has faced some radical change and thought process and attitude.

 

Yup.

 

The more things change the more they stay the same.

 

What also stays the same?

 

Each generation gets “left behind” as another races toward what will be.

 

And there is friction between generations.  It is friction created because the generation always being left behind is the older one.

 

The one that is supposed to be smarter.

 

The one that is supposed to know the best.

 

Well.

Is this a generalization? Sure. But the truth? Mostly.

 

Pieces or parts smarter and know the best?  Yes. Sure.

 

On the whole?  Nope.

 

Ok.

 

To be fair.  A minority of those being left behind actually enjoy the ride. They empower the youth. Fuel it. Guide it. Not restrict it. Those few get to enjoy a longer thrill ride.

 

But they are few.

 

On the whole the majority of the older generation holds on for dear life <a stranglehold in fact> to what they know and makes them comfortable. And it would possibly be okay of they did that and remained silent … but instead they complain about what is lost within the following generations and try and slow change.

 

It is too bad.

 

For by focusing on what is lost they neglect to have the amazing opportunity to see what is gained.

 

But.

 

Regardless.

 

In the end.

 

Change comes upon us whether we want it or not.  As Frederick Douglas said in 1850 … ‘you cannot ignore the intellect of the world.’

 

True in 1850.

 

True in 2012.

 

True in 2172.

 

Ok.

 

Moving on to business.

 

Yup.

A comment on the business aspect of this thought (older generations holding on to older thoughts).

change fight hold on let go

This is the craziest aspect.

 

Big business is always (ALWAYS) slow to change. It is part of their personal survival-thinking DNA.

 

But its actually death-thinking DNA.

 

Creative Destruction is all about the small (entrepreneurs) disrupting and destroying the status quo and that of ‘the big’ and through the destruction they begin recreating what is right and good for the economy.

So.

After reading that you may think “old” entrepreneurs would be part of the minority “happy few change agents.” (the few who recognize that the more things change the more they stay the same)

 

Well.

Nope.

 

Most typically they are actually the worst ‘non-change’ offenders.

 

Yes. All generations exhibit more conservative less risky behavior as they age.

 

But. Successful entrepreneurs, turned successful independent business owners, seem to most often exhibit this conservative (on steroids) behavior. My guess it is driven mostly by fear of losing what they gained (by the way … thinking this way isn’t exactly a stupendous growth strategy nor a healthy business environment if you want to have millennials as employees). But I also believe there is an aspect of refusal to let go of things that brought them that success.

It is slightly strange … but that which made them successful … they now disregard, and have discarded, under the guise of “maturity” or ‘mature businesses need to be managed differently than growth businesses’.

Oh.

And it is all compounded by their belief that past failed attempts should be avoided (even if someone has a thought on how that “failed” scenario could be viewed differently and therefore maybe the learning from that experience may have been flawed).

Now. I am not suggesting all past experience should be ignored. Or that successful entrepreneurs need to completely relive their aggressive risk (but smart) behavior that carved out their success.

But older business owners need to let go of some ‘beliefs.’  Not because they are wrong but rather because they are wrong ‘now.’

In addition sometimes new people provide new perspective on their growth (success & failures) experience.  The new people possibly have just seen “from the other side” and discern different learnings.

It is fresh perspective.

And most independent business people lose perspective as time goes on …. because they have cocooned themselves within their successful behavior <and their successes>.

Regardless.  This rant post all comes down to several overarching thoughts.

Each generation faces radical adversity.

Each generation facilitates extraordinary change (beneficial as a whole).

Each older generation is extraordinarily reluctant to release that which is comfortable to them (and what they “know” … or believe to know).

And, lastly.

 

 

We older folk, manager types, should reflect upon this.

free your mind

Why?

Because we are managers. And we are managers of those who will beget what will be better than what we have done or created.  That doesn’t diminish what we have done. And we should embrace the fact we have created an environment for others to go farther than we were able to go.

 

We wonder why managing young people (call them millennials if you would like) is so difficult?

 

Well.

 

It is because we are holding them back (in general). It’s like trying to tame mustangs in the Wild West. Except we, unlike the savvy old cowboys, don’t reflect on the beauty of the wildness of the mustang as we try and tame them.

We simply see the wild untamedness and believe it is a shame they are so wild.

 

Older managers, to be successful, need to admire the beauty of the untamed.  And not seek to break the mustangs but rather guide their energy to enable them to take the herd to the heights it deserves.

 

A poetic metaphor (bad one)? Maybe.

 

But certainly something worth thinking about.

 

The more things change the more they stay the same.

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Written by Bruce