Benjamin Franklin is attributed with the saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” While death and taxes may be certain, there is one other thing that is a constant in this world, and that is change.  

The world is always changing. Human experiences that seem like they will last forever, such as the horse and buggy, have and will give way to change. In the horse’s case, it was to the car. But many more things have and will change. Just in my lifetime people have gone from records to tapes to CDs to MP3s to streaming for music consumption. How many more seemingly common things will be completely different for our children and grandchildren? 

I personally love change. As a lifelong lover of learning, change has always been an opportunity for discovering new things. That is not to say I love change for change’s sake or that all change is good, but rather that change often allows me to encounter new and exciting ideas and experiences. As a child, my family moved several times across the county. While moving was often difficult in that we had to say goodbye to friends, we always had new adventures with new friends wherever we ended up. Those adventures always ended up teaching me something about myself, other people, or the world.  

In addition to being changed by circumstances around me, I have also had to put in hard work to change myself. When I was younger, I was a good athlete. I wanted to be better, but I really did not put in the hard and uncomfortable work to actually get better. I had to change the way I practiced and approached my sport if I wanted to progress. I studied everything I could about athletics at the time. I changed my diet, when I went to bed and got up, how I lifted weights, and how much I ran. That change worked too, as I won several conference titles and got to try out for two professional teams. 

Leading change in others or institutions can be just as difficult or more difficult than changing yourself. I have had the privilege to volunteer on several city boards in Fayetteville, Arkansas. One of those boards was the Urban Forestry Advisory Board. We found that many landscape and tree ordinances were outdated. While many other ordinances had changed over the years, the landscaping and water retention/detention ordinances had stayed pretty much the same as when they were written in the 1980s. It took over eighteen months, but eventually we were able to go through the old city codes, update them line-by-line, and convince the City Council to unanimously pass the new ordinances. It was challenging work, but that change has led to an increase in urban canopy and street trees. 

Despite my love of change it is not always rainbows and butterflies. I have worked at businesses that decided to change up portions of their corporate structure or how they operate, and it has not always gone well. While I voiced my concerns about how I thought the changes would not be best for the company, I still did what was asked of me when leadership decided to continue with the changes. In the one case where it did not go as planned, we figured out a new path forward and found a change that did work.