Recently a friend posed this question to me, “hey Mr. Blogger, answer this: all progress requires change, but not all change is progress.” Yes, asked me it in just like that, and they did not tell me why they were asking me or if the statement came from somewhere other than their own brain.
Needless to say, their question got me thinking. I really didn’t care about the source and why as much as the statement itself… so much that it compelled me to write this.
When I first heard this, 2 things came to mind. The first was a quote from the song “Freewill” by the band Rush, which goes, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Don’t ask me how this association was specifically made; I have always loved that line as it is one that frequently comes to mind when faced with a difficult situation or choice, or after I was and I may not have chosen or waited too long and options may have gone away.
The second thing that came to mind was the pure definitions of each word – progress and choice. Maybe it has something to do with growing up a few miles from the home of the original American dictionary. Where that is part of it, I always like to set my foundation from which to build a thought and idea from. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of progress is movement forward or towards a place; the process of improving or developing something over a period of time. The word change is the act, process, or result of changing; an alteration, transformation, substitution. There is more depth to each definition and each word is linked to its full definition.
Gut reaction followed by reflection
Going into writing this, I agreed with the statement. I equate progress to forward motion and accomplishment, and change to something being a catalyst for it, though forward motion and accomplishment is not necessarily progress in itself. You can change your surroundings, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to progress in your life. Each one in themselves has tangible qualities, but only progress has the positive intangibles of pride and satisfaction. This speaks to why the organizers of the 1933-1934 Chicago’s World Fair likely nicknamed it “A Century of Progress” and not “A Century of Change.”
As I thought about this more, I found these 2 words – change and progress – need each other. In order to progress and move forward, you must act, evaluate and most likely change something in order to move forward. Whether it’s where you live, a job, a customer or whatever, many times doing what you did before to get you where you are won’t take you any further. That change doesn’t have to be monumental – it may just be a tweak – but something different is often needed.
Change in itself is always happening – whether the weather, people, etc. – and reacting to that change with appropriate actions – big or small – will lead to progress, not the mere change itself.
Of course this is how I interpret this statement today. In the future, with whatever happens in my life – and changes and progresses – will most likely have an impact on this analysis. At least for now, I hope this addresses my friend’s query. It has definitely adjusted my thinking as now I will be looking for progress in my life. It this statement impacted your thinking – or not – please share your thoughts in the comments to this post.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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