I think we all understand what status quo means—the existing state of affairs. Within the status quo nothing changes until the level of discomfort becomes great enough to force change. By that point it’s usually too late for the change to do any real, long-lasting good—and it’s certainly too late for that change to be guided in the most rational, beneficial way possible. Forced changes are not only more painful, but they’re also often a part of a rapid downward spiral.
“Status quo is, you know, Latin for ‘The mess we’re in.'”
Mutatio is Latin for change. Shifting your outlook from maintaining the status quo to becoming status mutatio means that you become an agent of change. Becoming status mutatio means you’re always on the lookout for a better way of doing things—for opportunities to grow.
Do You Want to Grow or Not?
I think if you ask most people if they want to grow, their answer would be, “Yes.” At the same time, I’m not sure most people grasp that growth, by its very action, necessitates change. Just like a plant must change from an inert seed into something beautiful and completely different, so too must human organisms and systems change if they are to truly experience growth.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about an individual, a church, a business, a political or non-profit organization—all things will experience change as they grow. As an individual learns new concepts, as a church adds to its numbers, or as a businesses and organizations reach new people and hire new employees, there is a natural tendency toward change. The only way to inhibit that change is by refusing those natural changes to take place.
What does this refusal look like? Individuals hear new ideas and concepts and reject them out of hand. Churches gain new members but don’t allow those people to have any influence on how things are done going forward. Businesses touch the lives of potential customers, but instead of learning how they can best meet the needs of a changing society, they insist that their products are wonderful as-is. Organizations hire new people, but never let new ideas from their employees percolate upwards, insisting instead that employees tow the line and stick to the handbook.
This is what stagnation looks like. This is what stifling imagination and creativity looks like. This stagnation ultimately leads to death.
If It Ain’t Broke, I Ain’t Budging!
Status quo is most often reflected in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. These are the sort of people who, when confronted with the idea of change, balk because “we’ve always done it this way.”
How short-sighted is an attitude like this? You mean to say there’s NOTHING that could be improved upon? There’s NOTHING that might possibly be done better or more efficiently?
I think keeping the status quo is the default approach to life for most humans. Why?
Because the status quo is comfortable.
Keeping the status quo involves less perceived risk. To change—even when we know intellectually that successful change will bring about greater comfort or a better way of living—we are forced to step out of our comfort zones. We’re nestled safely in the familiar, even if we can see there’s a potential for something better.
Even if the consequences of failure are ultimately less painful than the consequences of staying the same, we’re still willing emotionally to stay put because our current level of pain is a familiar friend.
We tell ourselves, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” How sad that we can see success, goodness, and greatness on the horizon, but would rather make friends with well-known evil or mediocrity.
“The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Embracing Change for Good
Trust me, I get it. I understand because I’m no different. Becoming status mutatio is only gained through daily, willful intentionality. So how do we start?
Start by becoming open to both the idea of and need for change. Not change for change’s sake. Not change just because everyone else is doing it or to follow cultural fads.
No, embrace change as a part of growth. Embrace the change that comes as a natural by-product of attempting excellence. Embrace changes that come from looking for a better way.
When presented with opportunities for growth, an agent of change will stop and take time to consider the pros and cons of allowing that growth to happen. Being an agent of change does not mean shifting to an attitude that says, “all growth is good.” That’s foolishness. Cancer is a type of growth, and I think we’d all agree that cancer is not a good thing.
A wise agent of change considers the costs of change and determines if the potential end result is better than staying the same. An agent of change also asks “What’s the worst case scenario if we attempt this change versus the worst case scenario if we stay the same?” If, in the final analysis, they discover that not changing is the better way, at least they were open to the possibility of change, therefore they were open to the possibility of growth.
Change can be scary, but if we work as agents of change we can control and direct the growth.
Will we look completely different once the change has happened? Absolutely, but think back to that inert seed. Once it’s planted and begins to grow, it ultimately becomes able to reproduce itself exponentially and becomes more useful. Homes can be built from the wood of a tree. Pollen can be harvested and turned into honey. Life changing medicines can be created from plant by-products.
All because that tiny little seed was encouraged to change into something new.
Also published on Medium.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.
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