I just participated in a conference call with a small group of professional speakers and workshop leaders debating the worldwide societal and organizational changes we’re currently experiencing. It was a continuation of the discussion from my April blog posting (“What in the World is Happening Today”) at https://www.clemmergroup.com/blog/?p=697.

I have the scars from starting in this business during the sharp and very difficult recession of the early eighties with unemployment rates over 10% and interest rates near 20%. The first chapter of my first book (The VIP Strategy) published in 1988 was “World of Change, World of Challenge.” As a student of history, I am fascinated by the huge changes many societies have gone through. During those times some people believed the changes were leading to a positive future and others were convinced the world was ending.

What I draw from this historical perspective is that life is – and has always been – unpredictable, turbulent, and chaotic. Nature abhors stability, predictability, and sameness. The seasons of life follow eternally repeating patterns of birth, growth, decline, and death. That makes room for renewal and another cycle begins. Often the cycles don’t play out in a stable and orderly way. We may see bursts of growth – like the mid part of this decade – that feel like abundance and expansion will go on forever. The trees will grow to the sky.

Then when we least expect it – as we saw last fall – a storm springs up and instantly destroys what may have taken years to grow and develop. This often creates different conditions that call for something fresh and adaptive to fill the void. A new species might emerge. A new skill set might develop. A radically different approach may appear. A totally new opportunity opens up. This is creative destruction. This is evolution. This is life.

This cycle of change may vary it’s timing, but it never changes. Heraclitus was a philosopher living in ancient Greece around 500 BC. His greatest legacy today is his doctrine that perpetual change is central to the universe. Pre-dating and influencing Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Heraclitus made a series of observations on the unchanging nature of change that are highly relevant for us to keep in mind today:

Nothing endures but change.

You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.

All is flux, nothing stays still.

There is nothing permanent except change.