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The Time In Which Change Changed
By Eli Bay   Printer Friendly Version

You may feel blessed. You may feel cursed. However you feel about it, those of us living in the 1990's are being forced to adapt to an unprecedented acceleration in the speed of change.

In previous, less complicated societies, changes occurred very slowly, over generations. It wasn't long ago that the world of the child was not significantly different from the world of the parents and grandparents. Today, even the so-called experts on the future don't even know what the world will look like ten years from now.

Everyone is talking about managing change, as if it could be managed. There is an assumption that the people who are introducing the new technologies and systems know what they are doing and that everything will soon settle down after the next re-engineering or restructuring. This is a serious misreading of what is happening in society today.

We must anticipate that rapid accelerating change is going to be an on-going and inescapable feature of our lives, one of the very few certainties in a world characterized by monumental uncertainty.

To understand the significance of the dramatic speed-up of change in our time, it is extremely important for you to understand the concept of exponential growth.

The nature of the exponential growth pattern is characterized by very insignificant growth at the front end and the dramatic growth towards the end of the cycle. If you started with one penny at the first of the month and had the pennies grow exponentially over the next thirty days, it would start slowly, one penny, two pennies, four, eight, sixteen ... By the tenth day you would only have $5.12. By the twentieth day it would reach approximately $5000. But by day thirty, the sum of pennies will have swollen to the awesome sum of $5.3 million.

If you plotted this on a graph, it would be represented by a slow increase radically transforming into a steeply rising curve as the numbers suddenly begin to grow astronomically large during the last few days.

Over many tens of thousands of millennia, change always was insignificant and slow. It was only about three hundred years ago that change began to speed up. In this century, it began to steeply accelerate. My grandmother, for instance, was born ten years before the Wright brothers flew their first airplane and she passed away ten years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The nature of the change that is happening today is making the changes of my grandmother's day appear snail-paced in comparison.

Apparently, we have already gone through more change in past ten years than all the changes that have occurred in all of history, from the beginning of time until ten years ago. However, unless you understand the way in which the very large numbers are generated in exponential growth curves, this statement may appear to be just puff or overstatement. It is not.

This is the "future shock" which Alvin Toffler warned us about twenty-five years ago. It's here now and not about to subside. In fact, well-informed sources suggest that the world in 2005 may be more different from today than today is different from 1895. Never before have people been asked to adapt so rapidly. Ours is the unique period in which change has changed. It is the time of hyperchange.

Are you ready or able to deal with life in the really fast lane of the 21st century? Few of us are. Our industrial age schools and workplaces have barely prepared us for the scale of change that our grandparents knew. They haven't even recognized, let alone prepared us to deal with hyper change.

A practical strategy exists to strengthen your resilience to this new kind of change. It is to allow your body, mind and emotions to properly rest and recuperate on a regular basis - to effectively release your stress. If this type of deep healing relaxation does not occur, breakdowns will. If you doubt this, look at the medical statistics.

Future shock is one of the major causes of stress in the '90s, and informed people today understand that stress is the major killer and crippler of our era. If you wish to prevent your employees from just becoming additional and costly stress statistics, you would be wise to enable them to learn how to properly and efficiently rejuvenate and replenish themselves from the challenge of constant readjustment. This kind of training is not a luxury anymore. It's a corporate survival skill.

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