Impermanence and Business
Winter might be imminent, but the peak of the fall season is still vivid in my mind. While its brilliant colors are striking aesthetically, I also appreciate them as a reminder of impermanence. In our "autopilot existence," it may be easy to miss the springing forth of new green leaves and the warming days of summer, but it seems more difficult, at least for me, to miss the first biting breezes of fall and the colors that seemingly appear overnight—green leaves magically turning into red, yellow and orange. And then they are gone… a seemingly gentle breeze enough to change the landscape yet again.
And so, perhaps, this reminder from nature has been leading me to write about the necessity for us, as business leaders and influencers in our society, to understand impermanence, or at least to be occasionally reminded of its existence. In the work world, I notice how very easy it is for the mind to cling to the assumption that certain things about our organizations will stay the same. Of course we know through the lessons of the past few years, that the global business environment has been presenting us with "surprises" but do we still consider those surprises relatively inconsequential and superficial when looking at the big picture, and, as a result, do we continue to cling to organizational "truths" that we really don’t believe will ever change?
What would happen if right now we truly believed that nothing will stay the same? That the business, its position in its industry, in the investor community, and in the society at large, will change (for better or worse)? Can we recognize that the realization that nothing lasts in its current state is a realization that enables innovation, out of the box thinking, true crisis preparedness and endless opportunities to "remake" the future? Rather than trying to recreate the success of the past, or hang on to the threads of what is left, what does it look like to move into the present exactly as it is… and build from there with no predisposition about what the future organization will look like, or what its role in society may be, and, importantly, to move forward unfettered by the fear of letting go of what is not going to last anyway?
This has been a rich reflection for me in the past several months. If it resonates with you, you might begin with a little experiment. How often in the course of a week do you notice assumptions being made about the stability or permanence of the business, the industry, etc.? What might be different if just one of those assumptions was challenged?
Let me know what you discover….