How Does Change Happen?

March 19, 2015

Waiting for change sucks. It’s a holding pattern. I hate it. I feel like I’m waiting, (no – begging!) for a light bulb moment.

I work in the startup industry and the other day I was reading about innovation. It got me thinking about where ideas come from, the amazing chain reaction of these ideas and the results of innovation that have changed the way we live. I couldn’t help but contemplate this on a human level and how ideas and chain reactions have effected me and caused change.

Change is smaller than you think, it happens every day and it slowly and persistently crafts the future.

Eighteen months ago, I was a dancer. My day was routine and my life was planned, everything had a schedule. After years of living the ‘glamour’ of theatre life, despite the sequins and glitz, it was darker and I knew I wanted change but the feeling of the holding pattern was unrelenting. What I didn’t realise, was that I had already set in motion the change that has brought me to today.

I don’t remember why in particular, but I began to study whilst I danced. I thought I was just reading textbooks about things that I found moderately interesting and were just a means to an end, but I was opening my mind to the world beyond the theatre, and to new thoughts and ideas. It was subtle, and it took about 3 years to develop before I noticed it. It was this chain reaction that would eventually bring me to Europe and to this new life. Without the small and seemingly insignificant changes in my perception and ideas, I would never have got to now.  Suddenly, the holding pattern was a figment of my imagination.

Day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.

C.S Lewis

Today, I live a life that is a long way from the theatre. I spend my day helping other people bring their innovations and ideas to reality by creating stories and voices that give their brands a personality and an image. People often ask me, “Do you miss dancing?” – well, the answer is yes, I’d be crazy not to! But I miss it in the way that I miss the feeling of cuddling up on my mums lap to get warm after swimming lessons, I miss it like I miss riding my bike with my friends at the top of the cul-de-sac where we lived. I know I’m not that person or child anymore and I don’t ‘wish’ or ‘beg’ for that time back, but of course I know that I wouldn’t be me without the experiences.

We all, whether we realise it or not, craft change in our lives slowly over the course of months and years and this change becomes a part of who we are. We owe it to ourselves to embrace change because it took us years to make it happen.

I thought that the holding pattern had lasted years and I was begging for something to happen, I just didn’t quite realise that the change had started a long time ago. It happened (and happens) in thoughts, feelings, conversations with other people, serendipity, ideas, moments, books, study… chain reactions! Anything that inspires thinking about something in a different way. Even if you don’t notice it – it’s happening all the time. It’s the ‘slow hunch’ that develops over time bit by bit, inch by inch. Every thought and every idea is a stepping stone to the next thought and the next idea – you can’t get there without them.

So, change doesn’t only happen in Silicon Valley, in innovation, or in technology, and the so-called ‘waiting for it’ seems a total pain in the arse. But this is the story of how I have come to see change in my life – retiring from dancing and life as I knew it, move away from my family, living in Europe, and working in startups. I am opening my eyes and changing my perspective on possibility and on life, and the chain reaction that change brings keeps on happening.

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