My first career mentor was incredibly well-read and a real visionary. He was a jurist and a lawyer. I was in my mid-twenties when I got to work for him. He introduced me to the idea that change is the only constant in the world. That we need to accept change as a real part of life and if we manage to embrace change, we become immensely successful.
Change in Institutions and Industries
What is equally interesting is that this same person was a judge working in and leading an extremely traditional institution, in the Judiciary. He was part of the public service. My mentor was the chief judge in charge of the lower Courts and was dragging entire teams, including some really dusty mindsets into the 21st century. Some kicked and screamed. There were those who were curious. A portion were downright excited by his ideas. As for me, I was a planner and hated change. So I was, partly at least, a kicker and screamer. It took me some time to learn true enthusiasm for this idea of change.
I got to witness and take part in the processes and transformations in the Courts. I was incredibly lucky to absorb the concept of transformational change at a reasonably young age. This is because the older one gets, the harder it gets to accept the new, unless one has accepted the concept early in life.
What my mentor understood more than anyone else was that people and institutions cannot be cutting-edge, ahead of the pack and modern, unless they changed in very radical ways.
Coping with Change
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t endorse change just for the sake of changing. If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. But, just like the telegraph or the pager, some things will outlive their use and be replaced by newer, more advanced inventions and technologies.
So too, must humans adapt to change, in order to survive. To become resilient.
When Change is Unavoidable
And sometimes change is imposed on us by outside forces, whether we are prepared for it or not. Covid-19 is transforming the world whether we like it or not. No amount of screaming or throwing tantrums will change this fact.
If there is one thing we have learnt in the past year is that Covid-19 adapts to change effortlessly. It keeps mutating, bearing new strains. All to survive. So how do we cope with this master adapter?
I believe in peaceful, necessary transformation, especially now. I began this website because I was moved and motivated by the arrival of Covid-19 and the changes I knew it would bring. In my very first post on this site I said this:
“The butterfly cannot emerge without the searing restructuring, tearing away at the old, forcing regrowth through the painful, chaotic transformation into the new, into something beautiful and renewed.”
Suffering and Pain
Let’s face it. Change can be scary. It can make us uncomfortable, sometimes causing pain, even anguish, before the process of transformation is complete.
We are undergoing the process of metamorphosis right now. The caterpillar has to completely transform. With this process comes pain and suffering.
Suffering is not a weakness. Pain is not a weakness. Transformation sometimes involves internal and external pain. I, for one, am not the same person I once was, before I faced tremendous pain, for years and years.
So we need to forgive ourselves if we are going through a mental health crisis at this very challenging point in time. And we should never be afraid or ashamed to seek help. The stigma of mental health should not exist from this year forward. Indeed, we need to process this pain.
Do No Harm
We must transform while behaving kindly and without going out of our way to harm others. There is no excuse to be violent or harmful, against self or others. We must remember that violence and aggression against others or self-harm are not the answer. Pain shouldn’t ever be an excuse for aggression and violence.
We must adapt but do so without hurting or harming others. In my personal view, the soul journey involves travelling life’s path without seeking to harm others.
We need to be considerate, kind and respectful. We need to unite and face this transformation together. Against the invisible force of Covid-19. We must look after those weaker than us. We need to keep the fabric of society strong.
And in our unity, we will transform and become stronger and more resilient. We will undergo a metamorphosis and become rather like a butterfly, emerging from this point in history into the future, beautiful and renewed.