Resources on Change and Uncertainty
|There’s certainly no lack of content, these days, on uncertainty and change, as millions of people are launched on involuntary adventures and hero journeys. Here are just a few sources for some additional, thought-provoking reading on the subject, and on dealing constructively with these constants of life.
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Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life
Alan Deutschman expands his discussion (see “Change or Die,” in Articles below) of why change is so hard—but why embracing it can be so rewarding and liberating—in this well-written, engaging book about changing yourself, a company, or even an industry. - LW
Pathways of Chance
F. David Peat is a consumate explorer and adventurer. In this intense autobiographical journey, he offers a glimpse inside the brilliant, dryly humorous and relentlessly curious mind of a master physicist and explorer of the universe. As a young man, his passion to know drives him to melt his family’s refrigerator and set fire to more than one piece of the family home. As an adult, that same passion drives him to delve into art, music, radio, film, language, and Native American culture, as well as quantum physics. The unknown isn’t scary to Peat. It’s irresistible. And his curiosity is contagious. - LW
Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society
Gardner is a poster child for a life well lived. The Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Johnson, Gardner went on to have career after career, accepting a new job at the age of 76 and teaching at Stanford University well into his 80s. And the genius of his book Self-Renewal, originally written in 1964 and reprinted in 1995, is how eternally relevant it remains. Gardner doesn’t just accept change. He celebrates it, arguing that change and constant reinvention and renewal are essential for both humans and societies to remain vibrant and alive. “Men and women of vitality,” he says, “have always been prepared to bet their futures, even their lives, on ventures of unknown outcome.” (Gardner gave a great speech about this subject in 1993. Read an excerpt.) - LW
Man’s Search for Meaning
Victor Frank’s classic book is a fascinating and moving exploration of why some people survive hard times when others give up and die. Frankl knew from whence he spoke, too—the book came of his time in four different concentration camps during World War II. His parents and wife did not survive. But he did … and came to the conclusion that those who survive best in times of uncertainty or crisis have a strong sense of purpose or meaning in their lives; a reason they need to survive beyond themselves. Indeed, he argues that meaning is the most important treasure we all seek and need in our lives and, if we have it, we can survive just about anything. - LW
Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO’s Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions and Gut Wrenching Change
Question: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off a log. How many are left? Answer: Five. Why? Because there’s a difference between deciding and DOING. The context of this eminently readable book may be mergers and acquistions, but the real subject matter is change. How to do it, and how to deal with tough changes and circumstances more effectively. (Tip #1: wrenching change is best executed at best possible speed.) Good material for any executive or business person facing a changing market and world. - LW
“Change or Die”
Join Alan Deutschman, a leading writer on change and innovation for a look at the science behind why change is so hard for us humans. From the May, 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.
“Why to Start a Start-up in a Bad Economy”
There’s no lack of gloom and doom in the business world at the moment, about the chances of anyone getting funding for a start-up, or even taking a career risk (apparently even divorces are down). But in this article, Paul Graham offers a refreshing reality check: start-ups are never easy, and sometimes having the guts to move forward when everyone else is holding back is the key to success.
A moving tale of coping with unwanted adventure. Rosenblatt writes about coping with the tragic loss of his 38-year-old daughter and how he and his wife, who moved in with their son-in-law to help take care of the couple’s three small children, coped with the uncertain adventure of a drastically changed life course. A touching essay, by an acclaimed and brilliant essayist. You have to register with the New Yorker to read the full article, but it’s worth it.
“Order Out of Chaos: Embracing Uncertainty”
A short but thought-provoking essay by psychotherapist Mel Schwartz that explores why the words “order” and “chaos” have such power over us.
Another great essay by psychotherapist Mel Schwartz, this one on the role of “defining moments”—those moments when we actually make commitments to our insights. “Defining moments,” says Schwartz, “are those in which we take full authorship of the script of our lives.”
An insightful look at what neuroscience is confirming about why old habits die hard and how to make lasting change.
“What Will Happen if Nothing Changes?”
In this short piece, Gregg Thompson (President of Bluepoint Leadership Development) argues that the changes we pledge to make each year are often the wrong ones, which is why nothing changes. He suggests some more effective changes that managers and leaders—and really, humans—can, and should aim for.
Walk the Walk