This week we’ve been looking at the perils of slow death which result when the situation calls for us to adapt.  If we don’t, if we distort reality and deny what the world is telling us, we begin the process of slow death, writes Robert E. Quinn in The Deep Change Field Guide

There is a better way.

Deep change.

Deep change requires a new way of thinking and behaving.  Robert writes: “Deep change is major in scope, discontinuous with the past, and usually irreversible…  It involves taking risks and learning how to live in new ways.  It requires mutuality and interdependence.  Because the learning process is interactive, it cannot be controlled, only influenced.”  

And: “One of the most elusive aspects of deep change is it begins with self-change.”  

According to Robert, there are two types of change.

Incremental change is change based on past experience.  It results from rational analysis and a planning process.  It is limited in scope and is often reversible.  It is often an extension of the past.  

Most importantly, when we are making incremental change, we feel we are in control.  

Deep change is fundamentally different from incremental change.  We transform our orientation from the past to the future.  Rather than repeat what we have done historically, we find a new path forward.  Deep change requires us to challenge our old assumptions and develop new expectations. 

“In the deep change process, we surrender control as it is normally understood.  It is tempting to say we give up control.  This is not quite so.  It is more accurate to say we shift to another type of control,” writes Robert.   

We “learn our way forward.” Into the creation of the new result.  We learn to do things we do not know how to do.  We challenge our old assumptions and trust ourselves to learn in real-time as we move forward together.  

Along the way, we develop adaptive confidence: “a belief that we can move forward into uncertain situations and learn what we need to know as we need it.”

“Building the bridge while we are walking on it,” Robert calls it.  

Instead of self-interest, disengagement, and a lack of excellence which characterize slow death, deep change involves embracing excellence and seeing new possibilities.  

When we are truly committed to a new result, we change.  Our assumptions around what things are like when they are at their best (excellence) lead us to see, think and act differently.  

Deep change exists just beyond the edge of where we feel comfortable because “the place of uncertainty is a place of learning,” Robert writes.


Reflection:  When have I been involved in deep change?  What was it like?  How did it feel?

Action:  Journal about it.

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