Over the years, I have learned why change management is needed, the logistics related to it, and how to coach people through it.
But there is one thing that no business journal, academic paper, or training class covered: How it really feels to struggle with change.
It’s painful. And the degree to which it hurts varies from person to person. To some, it is a bit stressful. But to others, change rips away core elements of their identities. These are the people who need the most help. And I think that in order to help them we must truly understand how they feel. To those of you who have not felt this degree of change-related pain yourselves, I offer an alternative to your usual reference materials: a poem.
I wrote this poem on July 15, 2014, when I learned that someone well-known to my co-workers and me had died the Saturday before. His middle-aged passing shocked us. I did not know him well, but I do know that he was a caring man who faced significant change in his job and career. For more than two years I sensed his pain, and I let it inspire this free verse poem.
Dedicated to those who struggle with change.
Written for those who cause it.
The world weighs so weary on those who serve.
It cracks our backs at the point where all things converge
into a moment compressed between “is” and “is not”.
It is in this place where this servant is lost.
Here the world tears at the things I have made
leaving small scraps of nothingness, wasted and fading
from memory, from record, from photo, from mind.
It is in this place where those served became blind.
“What was” is no longer, “what is” does not seem right.
This moment confounds me and I can neither defend nor fight.
I cannot do harm. I am built only to serve.
But here, what you want and what I offer diverge.
In this moment compressed, in this place of new needs,
I am too tired to challenge, or change, or take heed.
So I choose to lie down and rest quiet on this spot
as I surrender my “is” and accept my “is not”.
– Mel Lewis, 2014
Good luck to you as you work through change in your own life. If you ever face surrendering your “is”, I hope someone is there to help you find your new one.