by Ron Potter

This is an interesting dilemma of the human race: “I would like change but I’m doing just fine the way I am.” The basis for this thought comes from Bob Beusekom, a program manager, consultant, and coach.

As I think back, my first reaction is that I’m the same person I’ve always been. But that’s not true and, in fact, when I think about it, I’m glad I’m not that person from years ago. (I believe) I’ve grown more mature, have more patience, and think about the world in a broader and more comprehensive sense.

Part of that broader and clearer sense of the world around me comes from spending time all over the world. I once added up how many countries I worked in during my consulting career. I don’t remember exactly how many it was, but I did work on three continents. I circumnavigated the globe on one trip. That time around the world with different cultures helped me form a much better view of the world and the people who occupy it.

Grandchildren and Horses

I have four grandchildren. All four of them have lived in different countries of the world. You can see already that it has given them a broader and more tolerant view of people. I’m proud of them (as we all are with our grandchildren). They have seen different cultures, been exposed to different people groups, and know multiple languages.

Growing up, I never left my small hometown in Michigan except for one visit we made to Kansas. One of my dad’s best friends moved there and he wanted to visit. What an experience for a nine-year-old boy who had never left the state prior to that. A ranch in Kansas was an entirely different world. The ranch hands were hard working from dawn to dusk. I was introduced to horses for the first time.

My dad’s friend had a couple of daughters about my age. We would pack a lunch and go to the barn in the morning and saddle some horses (with help, of course). Each day we would head in a different direction and ride until lunchtime and find a large rock or a fence post that would help us back on the horses after lunch. After lunch, we would saddle up and head back to the barn. I was on a horse every day. And though I found it a unique and fun experience at the time, I’ve never gotten on a horse since. I experienced a part of the Kansas culture but never had a desire for more. Different cultures for different people.

Tribes Cause Wars

One definition from Merriam-Webster describes tribes as a “social group composed chiefly of numerous families, clans, or generations having a shared ancestry and language.” If you look back at just the two World Wars, tribes were at the root of them. When I was growing up, there was not much global travel. Our fathers came back from WWII and, for the most part, just wanted to be home (with their own tribe). Our biggest rival “tribe” was the community next door we played sports against. There was not much love lost between these tribes. I created a bit of a stir when I married a girl from the neighboring (and rival) tribe. When I see old friends and family who still live in that local community (tribe), they often have a much different view of the world than I do.

My wife has a Dutch heritage which led us to Poughkeepsie, New York, during one trip. When the Dutch settled Poughkeepsie, they had to negotiate with something like 30+ Native American tribes. Simply getting through negotiations must have been a major ordeal.

Dying Tribes

When I was a kid, one of our Michigan vacations included a visit to an American Indian cemetery. You would still see a few Indians in the towns “up north,” but very few. When we stumbled across this old cemetery, it was haunting to me that a whole culture was dying. There was an old Indian at the cemetery. He seemed very sad and my thought was his tribe had died and he was the only one left.

What Do We Need to Change?

As the cartoon says, we all want change but none of us wants to change personally. And yet, we have lots of evidence that resisting change can have unwanted consequences. Here are some things that need to change:

  • Your attitude. Check your attitude. If you believe the only “right” view of the world is yours, you may find yourself sad and alone when your tribe dies.
  • Your understanding. When your understanding of the world (or a piece of it) doesn’t fit with what you’re seeing, witnessing, or hearing, don’t assume that your understanding is correct and everyone else is wrong.
  • Your listening skills. I’ve said before: listen to understand, don’t listen to respond. When you’re trying to understand, although it may be different than anything you’ve experienced, your learning will grow. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, don’t stop.
  • Your surroundings. As I’ve said, I’ve worked around the world. I could have said they were doing things wrong just because that’s not the way we do things in the US. But the population of the US is pretty small compared to the rest of the world, and there are even pockets in the US who would think that Michigan thinks entirely wrong about a subject.

Where do you need to change? What’s it going to take to help you realize you need to change? Without change, you die (intellectually, emotionally, and physically)!

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1 comment

Geula Jaffe January 12, 2023 - 8:12 am

Great post. Thank you Ron! Always so insightful


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