Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook--you made my day!

A few days ago when logged in to Facebook, I felt like a newbie. So much had changed about display, how it works that I had to spend a few minutes figuring it out. OK, to be completely honest, I still don't get it all, and I have been on "Help" a few times. But seriously, even before I knew how to use them, these Facebook changes made my day!

Why? Because before I was on line 2 full minutes, posts were popping up everywhere, "I hate these changes!" "Facebook, I hate the new you!" People were even mimicking Dr. Seuss, writing funny rhymes about their distaste for the new look and methods. That's when I had my eureka moment, and felt all warm and fuzzy inside. I saw human nature in a fresh way. Whenever there's a change of any kind in any place, the first reactions are often overwhelmingly negative, even before there's time to absorb the reasons or the benefits of the change. Arnold Bennett said it right, "Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." And it is so easy for the "differentness" of the change to be all we see. Mike Hutchceson,writer for UNLIMITED Business, says,"There is a stubborn strain in humanity that simply likes to keep things the way they have always been."

The reason that understanding made my day is because as a leader, often at the helm of change, I feel the backlash of people's suspicion of change all the time. It's easy to take it very personally. But Facebook is a faceless entity. Users don't hate FB--they hate the changes.

Why is there almost always an immediate backlash when something changes? I mean WHENEVER. Go back through history. Everything we have now and think is wonderful was met with initial resistance. Parisians organized petitions against building the Eiffel Tower--now it is their pride and icon. Doctors in Marie Curie's time who insisted that the presence of invisible "bugs" on the hands of caregivers were causing people to die received unbelievable persecution for insisting on new sanitary procedures.

We tend to resist change because we feel a lack of power and control. Why weren't WE consulted about this? Sometimes we resist change because we simply don't like the new idea. If it's arguable, it will be argued. We fight change because we doubt the need for it--we think the way things were was fine. The "I like it the way it is" argument is a discussion stopper.

While change agents like me do need to try our best to get "buy-in", lead change at a sensible pace, and seek godly wisdom on change, two facts remain clear. One, there's no good way to present change to someone who steadfastly is opposed to the idea of change and adjustment. Two, change has to happen anyway. "He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery."
Harold Wilson

Thanks, Facebook. You made me feel normal today. And you reminded me of a prayer I need to pray much more often:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr