Viva la Evolution (Part 2) – New Year Evolution..!

Dec 8, 2011   //   by Steve Wooding   //   A Slice of Lemon, Articles  //  No Comments

IN SHORT: Instead of trying to make revolutionary resolutions for the coming year, make evolutionary resolutions – New Year Evolutions..!

(~870 words, approx 5-7 mins to read)Spiral Staircase

Where were we…? Oh yes, EVOLUTION, REVOLUTION…

Oh, before we go any further, I want to introduce you to ‘gloop’..!

Some of you may have met this wonderful stuff before. It’s a mixture of cornflour and water and has some odd properties. Unlike a normal thick liquid, this mixture forms a dilatant fluid. This simply means that the quicker you try to move through it, or the more pressure you apply, the more resistance you get – it actually gets thicker in response to change..! Go slow and it’s a liquid, go fast and it gets more solid. There’s a nice 5-minute video of it here:

Just tuck that away for now whilst we get back to where we were last time…

We’d got beyond the idea of stagnation to those two conditions for revolutionary change to work – that the process has to be carefully planned beforehand, and the environment in which the change is taking place needs to change too.

From these two conditions, we’d drawn the two main reasons why evolutionary change often succeeds where revolutionary change fails:

  1. Our behaviour carries momentum.
  2. The environment (including other people) is resistant.

Let’s tackle these reasons one at a time, starting with the fact that our behaviour carries momentum.

You can think about it like this: For everything we do, think, say and feel, we have a recipe, a pattern. From the trivial to the deep and emotional. For example, you probably put the same leg in your trousers first when you put them on. With me it’s left, then right. You may have a routine you do without thinking when you walk into the house – where you put your coat, keys, bag etc.

We do the same with larger, perhaps more impactful aspects of our lives too. Our organisation (or lack of!) around time, the way we handle conflict or cope with stress are good examples too.

Once we’ve created these patterns or habits, they act like an articulated lorry carrying a large load. The more pervasive and important the pattern, the larger the load and the correspondingly larger the momentum. Now try to imagine turning a lorry like that around at 60mph? You can’t simply yank the steering wheel around and expect it to defy the laws of physics and suddenly change direction successfully.

We all know that whilst it is completely possible to turn a huge lorry around, you have to do it gently – slow it down first then turn at walking pace, perhaps requiring a little three-point back-and-forth before you get it pointing in the new direction and then accelerate gently up to the new speed.

Our behavioural patterns have their own momentum, and making small changes then checking that they’re working means that much of the rest of our lives can adapt around those small changes.

Now the second one: The environment is resistant.

We can stick with the lorry analogy here because it works quite nicely. Imagine now that the road the lorry is travelling along is packed with traffic – you’d have to take account of the impact of your actions on those vehicles and their drivers too. This makes a change of direction for the lorry even more tricky because you have to account for what’s happening around you, unless you want movie-scale pile-up carnage to result!

Another wonderful, example is the ‘gloop’ I mentioned before. When we move through it slowly and steadily, there’s not much resistance at all and slow changes are easy. If, however, we decide to try to move faster or change things abruptly (like hitting it with a hammer!) it gets more and more resistant until it becomes almost solid.

None of our lives operate independently from the environment around us. This includes people, whether that’s significant relationships, children, other family, friends, work colleagues, customers and clients, associates, contacts – the list is very long! And people can be the most resistant of all for the simple reason that they know us as we are, they too have patterns for relating to us as we are, and if we change radically, that would mean they too have to change. And many aren’t ready, or willing to do that.

All these reasons mean that evolutionary change is often much more sustainable and effective than revolution, no matter how appealing the idea is of everything suddenly being different, better or new*.

So, given the time of year we’re already in, the New Year is approaching every closer, and you may already be making New Year Resolutions.

More often though, what people are looking for are New Year REVOLUTIONS – big changes that will somehow mean 2012 is going to be hugely better in some way than 2011.

What I’m going to suggest is that this time, if you you’ve not tried it before, you go for New Year EVOLUTIONS – small changes that you can make step-by-step and sustain.

Whether it’s to do with your job, health, finances, your mental and emotional life, spiritual side, or something else, look to evolve.

Because, if you stop and think for just a moment, if you add up enough EVOLUTIONARY changes, guess what..?! You have yourself a REVOLUTIONARY change!

Until 2012 I wish you all the best for the Christmas and holiday season!


*I’m not saying that radical and revolutionary change can’t work – they often can as long as they’ve been carefully planned and all they knock-on effects accounted for. And therein is the key to successful revolutionary change – the bigger the change you wish to make, the more concentrated planning and effort it requires.

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