7/19/13

How Long Between Leaps?

Entrepreneur and popular author Seth Godin recently wrote a short, thought-provoking post on how we know when its time to change.

He points out that childhood promotes change on a trimester/semester/year basis, via the school system. When we are young, we constantly shift routines, friends and activities, regardless of our comfort with change  - it's unavoidable.

This disappears as we get older and settle into our own pace. Without the clockwork change of school, we are free to avoid change and seek stability.

Seth ends his post urging us to seek change anyways: "People don't like changing their rhythm. If you adopt the rhythm of stability, then change is a threat. Adopt the rhythm of change, though, and you'll get restless right on schedule."

This struck a chord with me -  though perhaps from the opposite end of the spectrum he was trying to reach. I've never had difficulty finding the "rhythm of change". In fact, that rhythm comes very naturally to me.

A lot of this has to do with the way I grew up: Before the age of 12, I moved 6 times, in the process going through a series of school systems (I've been to public, private, charter and home schools). My family would move to a new state each summer, and I would need to settle in quickly to make friends in time for my mid-September birthday party. Changes in geography, social groups, activities, sports teams... these were just the norm, and I threw myself into the rhythm of change wholeheartedly.

Even once my family settled a bit more permanently in Oregon, I sought change in other ways -- I remember the last year of high school felt like a long slog through the mud towards college.

When Erika and I started the company, I was two years into college and itching for a change of pace. Dropping out was an easy decision -- I was ready for a big change, and it was perfect timing.

Fast forward, it's been another two years, and I am getting -  as Seth described perfectly - "restless right on schedule".

It's more complicated this time though. I don't get to move, change schools, find a new career. I'm busy building something.

The answer I want is not how to adopt the rhythm of change, but rather how to override it. Creating something really good - in the business world, in my relationships, in my community - is going to take years, not months. Sometimes I wonder (in a very Carrie Bradshaw-esque way): can I maintain the level of change I crave and simultaneously stay the course?

Maybe it will just take a little mental focus and some creativity in my day to day schedule. Breaking up the routine, shifting my methods, taking on new challenges and delegating repetitive tasks as much as possible to focus on the big picture.

I think Seth might say that just as it's uncomfortable yet necessary for those who dislike change to embrace it, it is necessary for me to stay still and breathe for a little while... just to see if I can do it.

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