October 2008, Mastering Change
ne of the topics on which I speak on a regular basis is Change. I speak about change because it is a regular part of my life just as it is a part of yours. Change can be positive or negative depending on how we choose to react and respond to it. Of course, for me, the most dramatic example of change I have faced was my personal experience during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Another major change for me has been forming The Michael Hingson Group, a new, creative work environment and opportunity to add meaning to my life and the lives of others. For my part, I am excited and grateful for the opportunities and challenges ahead. I appreciate the fact that you are sharing this journey with me.
September brought more changes, personally as well as for our country. Let me first discuss the personal changes in my life and then offer a few comments about some of the changes ahead of us collectively.
As many of you know, in March 2007, my guide dog Roselle retired after seven years of service; she remains my friend, a member of my family and a hero to me and so many others. My sixth guide dog Meryl succeeded Roselle and has been my guide for the past year and a half. Unfortunately, Meryl has not been able to adapt well to the constantly changing demands of my active schedule. Last week, I had to retire Meryl to relieve her from the stress she was exhibiting while guiding.
For any blind person who has to retire a guide dog, the change associated with transitioning from one guide to another is difficult and sometimes can be very traumatic. For my part, I know that retiring Meryl was the best thing that I could do for her. She returned to Guide Dogs for the Blind for a complete evaluation, with the possibility that she be retrained and reissued to another blind person where she can be a better match. Meantime, I eagerly wait to see who my seventh guide dog will be.
The waiting leads me to reflect on the changes I had to face with each new guide dog. Change, obstacles, and opportunities all have choices associated with them. The most basic choice we face whenever we encounter something new is whether or not what is happening to us is positive or negative. Many times our first reaction to any kind of change is a negative one. As we grow and mature we seem to become conditioned to the idea that change is hard, difficult, and something to be avoided at almost any cost.
Most of us are reluctant to embrace the adventures and opportunities that change can offer us. 9-11, certainly one of the greatest tragedies this country has ever faced, brought with it the opportunity to make some very positive changes in our thinking and how we interact with the rest of the world. It is so very unfortunate, I think, that our leaders did not take full advantage of the opportunities to form much stronger international alliances, building on our shared values and goals as the basis for new friendships.
I suggest that whenever we, individually or collectively, face a change we should look beyond the obvious risks to examine the positive aspects and opportunities within the change. Both presidential candidates talk a great deal about change – the need for “something new” in Washington. I agree. I believe the person most likely to bring real change to our country is the candidate who presents change as positive, not driven by fear and negativity.
We should never precipitate change based simply on an emotional reaction, positive or negative. Change needs to be part of a plan for improvement with clear benefits. The goal of change is positive progress. The unifying reality, despite our ideological differences, is that each of us can and should participate in the choice. Our presidential candidates should do more than talk about change. If change is really to occur, then the winning candidate needs to prove to all of us that he knows how to bring about change and that he has a plan to positively manage it.
I could have continued to work with Meryl and it is even possible that I might have been able to work her through her fears and stress. Based on my many years of successful partnership, my prediction for successful was not high. I think her spirit might have suffered greatly in the process. I took the plunge towards change because I was prepared to manage the outcome, to ensure it was positive for both of us. I embrace Meryl’s retirement with joy and with eager anticipation for the future. I suggest that we can usually find a positive aspect to any change, especially when we remained focused on bringing about the greatest good.
Expect to hear soon about the launch of my updated website at www.MichaelHingson.com. Meanwhile, I again ask that if you or someone you know is planning an event that needs a speaker, please refer them to the current website, where my speaking topics can be found. You can also check out my profile under Michael Hingson at http://www.linkedin.com .
In my next letter, I’ll be sharing another one of my speech topics, “ETHICS — THE REAL BOTTOM LINE”. You can anticipate getting a different view of our current mortgage prices than you may have encountered thus far. Stay tuned.
Again, thank you all for your interest and support. Until next time, be well and embrace the concept of change – it may not be as bad as you think.