A reflection by Juliane Erben
“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”
―Pauline R. Kezer
Every day we have the choice between the comfortable feeling that is associated with continuity and the unknown of change. So I ask you; how deep are your roots and how tall are your branches?
I thoroughly believe that a lot of the successes in my life and the happiness that I feel today are due to having made the choice for change many times over what may have been ultimately easier - staying where I was, continuing to do what I did.
I am 32 years old (or young if you like) and I have lived in six countries - Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, South Korea, Canada and finally Australia. Each country presented challenges to me but each country also broadened my horizon and allowed me to get a new perspective and to grow as an individual. The most important lesson perhaps has been that my culture is one of many, my way of life is one of many and the moment you stop judging others and you let your curiosity guide you with openness, there is so much to learn from others. Sometimes indirectness (which us Germans are not exactly known for), will help deliver a difficult message in a kinder way. Likewise, sometimes the German directness - when understood not as rude but rather as pure honesty - can actually deepen a friendship in my experience. Changing countries has taught me different ways of “being” as well as openness and I know without this I would have missed out on many wonderful people and experiences in my life.
Fourteen years ago I decided to study Tourism Management with the goal of working in destination marketing. Today I work as a Project Manager for Salsa Digital. Never had I imagined when I graduated from university that I would work in IT one day but here I am and I love it. I did not focus on the field and whether it was what I had “intended” to do but rather on the fact that whatever role I chased played to my personal strengths - my ability to think and feel like my customers for example and being able to deliver good results because of this. I allowed the change of industry and role because I believed in my ability to adapt and to learn. I acknowledge of course that I am not writing to you as the CEO of Apple but I am in a role that I love, giving me the lifestyle I personally desire and that is what I consider success.
Change is not always easy - or maybe it’s not easy most of the time - and sometimes we make a change and it results in us being less happy. But once you sign up to the concept of change, it also means that you are never stuck; you arrive, you evaluate and then decide again - do I stay or do I go? Once the fear of change is gone there is an ocean of possibility ahead.
The choices between change and continuity present themselves to us every day; go to the restaurant we always go to or try the Armenian restaurant in the city, have the same reaction to something that annoys us about our partner or maybe just this time joke and see a smile rather than anger and disappointment, continue a role that does not satisfy us or quit and go on a trip around the world to find yourself, go for a run like every day or try climbing this weekend and - bringing this back to your and my professional world - stick to the plan or work agile, always ready to adapt to new requirements or findings, always ready to change.
We all need our roots but if we also embrace change, investing our energy on what we might find as a result of it rather than what we may lose because of it, we will grow and we will learn and I think we will ultimately be happier and achieve better results.