I have known change for as long as I can remember. From changing homes and schools frequently to leading business change, the only constant is that everything is forever moving. As I start another trip, I realize that I have growing doubts about how others buy-in to change. Assurances are not enough to validate that another understands. An initial agreement, even as s/he repeats the new mantras, does not mean that s/he is on board. Change takes time. Time will tell the truth.
History is filled with warning examples. Even powerful change-agents may not successful realize change at first. In a wisdom father’s case, when he returned to the place he had led in change he found that things were very different. Old habits combined with stories that were not quite accurate. On his arrival, the story was out for consideration. “There’s also a problem because they [new believers] are more zealous than ever in observing the laws of Moses. They’ve been told that you advise believing Jews who live surrounded by unbelieving outsiders to go light on Moses, telling them that they don’t need to circumcise their children or keep up the old traditions. This isn’t sitting at all well with them.” (Acts 21.21)
I read this and immediately think that the change-agents that followed likely did not believe. If I replay the story in my life, there is a simple conclusion. The people I thought had bought in missed the heart of the changes. They got part of it, just not all.
I leave planning to do things differently.
I want to hear their stories and perspective. Unless I know how far apart we are, I will not know how far we need to travel in order to reach each other.
I will listen to their version of the change story. Their words should answer the following questions. What will in look like in their community? Where does s/he fit in? How will things change?
We will make an appointment to check in with each other. Today’s stories work. Tomorrow is something new.