Joan Devine, Director of Education, Pioneer Network
“I like stirring the pot – I think it’s part of my duty, to shake people up a bit – make them look at things in a different way.”
I’ll bet many of you opened up this newsletter from Pioneer Network expecting to see the familiar style and format that you have come to expect every week for the past couple of years. The look is one you have become used to seeing; you basically know what you will find and where to find it. And the truth is, there is comfort in that familiarity, in routine, and even in predictability. So why are we shaking things up? Why does it seem like these days NOTHING stays the same — not in our work and not in our lives?
It’s true — change is all around us and sometimes it’s hard to understand why it has to happen.
Take my local grocery store. I have been shopping there for over 30 years. It’s a local chain which I have come to love. Why? Because of things like the people, who are always friendly and helpful, the products and selection, and the cleanliness. And then there’s that sense of familiarity with the way things are and have always been. Unlike other stores in town, I can run into the store and know exactly where everything is. That to me is very comforting.
Well, imagine my surprise and dismay when I returned from vacation last month only to find that my favorite store is undergoing major renovations! The front entry-way is being remodeled, entire sections of the store are being moved, signage is changing. I go to where I KNOW I will find something — and it’s not there!
Now, I trust there are reasons for these changes, but still, I can’t say that I like them. But then I remind myself what hasn’t changed. The people — they are still friendly and helpful. The products and selection are still great, and in fact they are adding additional items. And the store, even with all the renovation going on, maintains its cleanliness.
And while there are so many visible changes, the core values for my favorite store don’t seem to be changing — it feels that they are still living their mission. But still — why can’t they just leave things ‘the way they have always been’?
I’ll bet most of us have heard that question many times over the course of our work to change the culture of aging — most of us have even said it a time or two (or at least thought it!).
When we look back over the past twenty years, we can see the positive things that have come from change. Who among us would ever want to go back to the days of restraints and institutional practices? But that doesn’t mean that change isn’t hard — that we sometimes didn’t approach it kicking and screaming and lamenting the “way it has always been.”
Several weeks ago, the feature article in the newsletter was about the “Anatomy of a Change Adept Organization,” in which author Margie McLaughlin reminded us of something we all know, that for our teams, “the constant in their lives is change.” It’s happening all around us, and when change is for the right reason, when it is purposeful, we find ourselves able to adapt, and in the end, things are generally better than they were. We CAN do the hard things — we can make change a positive force in our lives and in our communities.
Pioneer Network is an organization that was born from a group of forward thinking, revolutionary individuals who saw a vision of what the world could look like for individuals who lived and worked in a world where the “culture of aging was life-affirming, satisfying, humane and meaningful.” Because of this, change is something that we will always promote, even in something as simple as giving a new look to our newsletter, and adding some new features like the “What’s Happening” section, that we hope will be a place to share and learn about culture change in action!
So, we hope that you will embrace this small change. But more importantly, we hope it will remind you that change is everywhere and that we can all be a positive force in changing the simple things in our lives — and the big things in our world!