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Saluting the Changing of the Guard —In Your Mind ‘s Eye

By Peter Jeff
Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you better cope with change. (Reading time: 3:42)

      When escalators first debuted in department stores, nurses were stationed at the top to tend to those who thought they would feel light headed.

          When the first bathtub was introduced in the United States in 1842, It was labeled “a menace to health,” according to doctors and three years later bathing was unlawful in Boston except when prescribed by a physician.

          And when the first air balloon landed after a 15-mile flight in France, the people in the town of 20,000 were so frightened of the air-born monster they called it “inhuman” and destroyed it with stones and knifes.

         Only vending machines and babies welcome change.

       After all “change imposed is changed opposed,” as author Spencer Johnson writes in his book Who Moved My Cheese.  No wonder Nicolo Machiavelli said: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain of its success that to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” See 10 reasons why people resist change.

        Yet, the most effective leaders I’ve ever known are committed to a new order of things. Change agents (a.k.a. leaders)  reflect the spirit of innovation and freedom resplendent in the gilt letters inscribed above the doors inside the United States Senate chamber: Novus Ordo Seclorum “a new order of the ages is born.” They see a world of “permanent white water where change itself is changing,” according to author Peter Vaill in his book Managing as a Performing Art. Yet the chains of old traditions resist the change toward new renditions. Consider the tradition of quoting stock prices in eighths of a dollar, harkening back to the 18th century. Then the US dollar equated to the Spanish silver dollar, a coin that was frequently divided into eight parts.

The Power of Conventional Wisdom Is So Strong that it Blinds and Binds

Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny

         Consider the football tradition in NOT making  helmets mandatory in college football players until 1939. That was 46 years after a midshipman at the Naval Academy became the first football player to voluntarily wear a helmet. Joseph Reeves was panned ” a sissy” for wearing the helmet.  That so called  “sissy” would  go on to become an Admiral in the US Navy.

Robert Fulton's Steam Boat

          The power of conventional wisdom is so strong that it blinds and binds. And often seeing isn’t believing. Even Napoleon, who once said that with imagination you could conquer the world, had more consternation than imagination the first time he saw a steam ship. Napoleon scolded steam engine inventor Robert Fulton for making a ship sail “against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck. I pray you , excuse me, I have no time to listen to such nonsense.”

       Ah, the over-whelming  power of conventional wisdom. Seeing isn’t believing. After using the telephone for the first time United States President Rutherford Hayes. said: “That’s an amazing invention but who would ever want to use on

As our circumstances are new, we must think anew and act anew

      Seeing isn’t believing. When German astronomer Johannes Kepler correctly proved than planets orbit in an elliptical not circular pattern, he was denounced. When Russian composer, conductor Igor Stravinsky first presented his ballet “Rite of Spring” his audience rioted. When Claude Monet first exhibited his impressionistic art, people considered it “messy.” One newspaper reported that after seeing the Monet, the visitor “went mad, rushed out in the street and started biting innocent passersby.”

        As Abraham Lincoln said: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the storming present and future. As our circumstances are new, we must think anew and act a new.”  And that means all leaders are constantly ordering a new order of things, including a change of guard. In their minds.

        How do you cope with change? I look forward to your thoughts. Use the Comments Section below.

Today’s ImproveMINT
Embrace change — a new order of things — to  keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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