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February 21, 2011

Change is not mandatory; neither is survival

10h30: I was looking for some inspiration for a sales training session I’m holding. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson always gives me something to work with.

12h30: Nada on sales … will probably have to go to Og Mandino for that. I can’t believe I spent 2 hours looking for something and I came up with nothing. Well, not really, I found this little gem on change.

On Extinction (pg. 302 – 303)

The earth has seen five major extinction episodes in its time – the Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Tiassic and Cretaceous. The Ordovician (440 million years ago) and the Devonian (365 million) each wiped out about 80 – 85 % of species. The Triassic (210 million years ago) and the Cretaceous (65 million years) each wiped out 70-75 % of species. But the real whopper was the Permian extinction of about 245 million years ago, which raised the curtain on the long age of the dinosaurs. In the Permian, at least 95 % of animals known from the fossil record checked out, never to return.

Extinction is always bad news for the victims, of course, but it appears to be a good thing for a dynamic planet. Crises in the Earth’s history are invariably associated with dramatic leaps afterwards.

So what? According to Ian Tattersal of the American Museum of Natural History, “The alternative to extinction is stagnation and stagnation is seldom a good thing in any realm.”

So perhaps we need to do a mental health check and ‘make extinct’ those behaviours and habits that are holding us back from true success.

And we have to do it at the speed of light (300 000 km per second) because everything is changing rapidly.

Remember that change is not a choice.

Or as W Edwards Deming put it – “Change is not mandatory; neither is survival.”

2 Comments on “Change is not mandatory; neither is survival

John Brandow
February 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

As usualy you make sense , even when quoting quotable quotes!

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Etienne de Villiers
February 22, 2011 at 7:48 am

Dear Jacques

I think change is a choice. But I don’t know why people, myself included, don’t simply make the choices we need to make.

My wife has a sailor uncle [a brother of her other sailor uncle John Martin] who operates a very successful yacht chartering business in St Martin. On the topic of the reasons for the Springboks beating the All Blacks in May 2007, I summarised my take on success, any success, his own included, as follows:

Hi Ian

Every man has a goal and no goal is attained without a concerted effort towards that goal.

Take your own objective of ‘having great fun’, for instance. Did those bikini girls, in your photos, drop out of the sky? Even if they did, then it was thanks to your hard work, at having fun, over many years, that your yacht happened to be right there for them to fall onto. So you’re having great fun because that is what you work at and do for a living even if it takes a lot of energy to hold onto those gals, a lot of energy to keep that smile on your face and a lot of energy to keep holding a camera focused, day in day out, on capturing the results of all your efforts.

There can only be one reason why anybody else is not in your specific position. They are not into sailing and fun and beautiful girls and laughing and smiling and the sun on their backs. They have different goals. If it is his goal, a man who has worked or suffered long and hard, will also be at the right spot and at the right moment to receive and be splattered generously, when his type of shit strikes the fan.

And by checking what drops into a man’s lap you can work it out backwards to see what he’s been keeping himself busy with and what his goal has actually been all along, I suppose. Scary.

Yesterday both our teams worked hard to win. That was their clear objective. To win you need the ball and you need gaps to run through. Therefore when the New Zealanders ran with the ball our guys were there to stop them, when they dropped a ball, our guys were there to pick it up and, when there was a gap, our guys were there to take it. Hard, targeted teamwork for 80 minutes. If winning dropped from the sky, even in the form of luck, the bounce of the ball, our guys, not the New Zealanders, were there at the time and at the spot where opportunity popped up.

Are you there when the girls arrive? Yip, 24/7. Am I here when a nagging client phones? Yip, 24/7.

Greetings to all

Etienne

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