In these times of turbulence and rapid change, when areas like the environment, voting rights, and immigration demand immediate, constructive action, why does continuity matter?
Because it is continuity that can give us the balance and strength we need to embrace change.
I was reminded of the need to balance continuity and change reading the new book Leveraging Change by my friend Jake Jacobs.
The book is highly readable, (thank you Jake), and full of great stories. Jake gives us eight levers of change that help organizations move forward “better, faster, easier.”
His first lever, “Pay attention to continuity,” captured my attention.
Change and continuity are a polarity, an interconnected pair of seeming opposites. Jake reminded me that they need to be managed as a pair. Overdo one without the other and you’ll not achieve what you need.
Too much change without continuity and we can feel overwhelmed and disoriented. (Check that!)
Too much continuity without change can leave us stuck, not addressing critical areas where the need for change is urgent.
Where do we find continuity in our lives?
We can strengthen our sense of continuity in many ways. We can:
- Reconnect with long-term friends.
- Revisit old stories and memories, exploring patterns and threads.
- Embrace traditions we care about.
- Honor constructive legacies.
- Treasure and protect our deepest values.
We can increase our sense of continuity as we take time to reflect and appreciate the people, places, and things we have valued.
Recent examples I’ve found working for me:
Old friends. I belong to a group of nine women who went to high school together. We now are scattered in four countries. My hormonally stressful high school years were hardly prime time for me. Plus, I attended that high school for only two years and barely knew some of the women. Yet, I love being part of the group. We share knowledge of a time, place, and period in history that few others know.
We are old friends beginning new friendships. We don’t talk about high school. We share about our lives, grounded in a connection that spans forty-five years.
Writing stories and memoir. Writing my book has been my opportunity to review my past and find the patterns and threads that have braided together throughout my life.
Tradition. I grew up with a springer spaniel, a true saint of a dog. I admit, there are many good breeds. But are we surprised that my joy boys are springers?
Legacy. My Dad loved to paint, especially after he retired. I grew up believing that I wasn’t a visual artist. Before my first beginning watercolor class, I selected tubes of color from his old art supplies. Now when I paint, I feel him and treasure this little bit of legacy.
What anchors you?
Finding continuity in our lives, through friends, reflections, memories, traditions, and legacies can anchor our lives as we make changes.
We can also find continuity in our values.
The people today who seem to want to return to the past may be looking for reassurance that the values they most care about will continue.
I, too, want many values in this country to continue. (Even as their implementation may need to change.)
- Liberty and justice for all. (As we learn what that really means.)
- The right of all citizens to vote.
- Pride in the country.
- Care for its diverse populations.
My list could go on.
In times of turbulence, our values can anchor us.
Big changes are here and more are needed. Balancing change with continuity can help steady us for the road ahead.