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Why is Transformation Painful ?

May 29, 2008 06:08 AM 1
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Post Date: January 1, 1970
Posts: 163
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Why is Transformation Painful ?

Dear seniors & professionals,

Whether we speak in the context of an individual or an organization, transformation refers to a fundamental and profound change. If "change in due course" refers to continuos incremental improvements and adjustments, that a system does to adapt to a changing environment, transformation refers to a major change "whose time has arrived".

Why is transformation more difficult than ordinary change?

Any system (whether it belongs to the lower levels of Physics, Chemistry and Biology or to the higher levels of Psychology, Sociology & above) - accumulates some rigidity over a period of time. The static rigidities of a system are the result of learning and knowledge accumulation and hence are very critical for its very existence. However the very same rigidity also makes the system "out-of-tune" with its environment.

When a system is forced by a situation to give up some or all of its static rigidities, the most fundamental feeling that arises within the system is one that of "FEAR". This precautionary response is hard wired in to the system, to protect it from de-generation. However the fear that protects the system from de-generation, is also preventing the system from changing for the better.

A system normally prefers small incremental changes, with which it is able to adapt to a changing environment, without having to deal with a major traumatic experience of giving up its entire static structure. So change seems easier than transformation.

Any change that helps the system adapt to future, with a backward compatibility to its past structures, is easily accepted. But this very pre-disposition towards backward compatibility, progressively limits the system's options, till a point comes where the system has no other option except to transform completely or face death.

It is quite natural then that the process of transformation invokes more fear than ordinary change, because there is so much of the static structures that have to be dismantled.

Why is transformation painful?

In addition to Fear, every time a rigid structure is changed or modified the system experiences PAIN. PAIN is nothing but a communication mechanism, which the part uses to communicate with the system and gain its attention.

At this juncture, the higher level system, has to either take action and prevent the change from happening (if that is what is good for the overall system) or re-assure its part that the change is good for the system. In the case of former, the change is stopped and hence the Pain subsides. And in the case of later, the part realizes and accepts the need for change, changes for the better and then the pain subsides.

Can Transformation happen without Pain?

If Pain is the communication mechanism from the Part to the System, then LOVE is the communication mechanism from the System to the Part. This is the channel that the system uses to re-assure its part that the change is good and hence need not be resisted.

When Love flows from the higher level system and reaches the part, the part gets the message that the change it is going through is bad from its own micro perspective, but is actually good from a macro perspective of the system. This is a realization, which is possible only when the Love from the higher level system has been received by the part. Then the part surrenders in joy to the process of change and the system and its part go through the change with joy and happiness.

The accumulation of Static rigidities

If the part was not open and ready to receive this communication of Love from the higher system, then it continues to resist change and radiates pain.

Since avoidance of pain (from the parts) and compassion towards the parts are in-built in to the system's rule set, many a time, the system accepts the status quo and learns to live with the static rigidities of its various parts.

Time and again, the environment comes and demands change, the parts protest with pain, the system tries but fails to establish communication with the part, and finally has to settle for the status quo. This is a process in which the part and the whole suffer together repeatedly at increasing frequencies. The system can live and die like this without ever going through any transformation what so ever.

When the Time comes?

Or a time comes when the system gets the faith and courage to experience the intense fear and pain of the transformation process. This faith and courage comes to the system from some external source. After all the system is a system only to its part. But it is itself a part to some other bigger system.

The transformation

Once the system realizes that it is a part of a bigger system, it becomes more open to accept and experience the pain radiating from its own parts. As a result the bond of Love and Compassion from the system to its parts also get strengthened. That in turn makes the parts more accepting and courageous of change.

At the time of transformation, the system goes to the depth of fear, pain and despair, anchored firmly on the conviction that all this is worth it for the benefit of something that is greater and bigger than itself. So with conviction and joy, the system surrenders itself to the process of transformation, shakes all its useless rigidities, and transforms itself in to a new system that is more dynamic and appropriate.

When this happens to the system, it is obvious that the parts would have also gone through the same experience in a smaller scale. The system and its parts are now ready for another cycle of the same process: - Further learning, accumulation of knowledge, build up of static rigidities, incremental change and painful transformation.

Is there a better way?

When a system is able to keep all its parts engaged in Love, and when the system is also continuously engaged in Love with the bigger system above it : - then transformation can happen every now and then, as and when it is required, at the most appropriate times and in a pro-active manner. Out-dated Static rigidities can be purged from the system then and there. These mini transformations become day to day intense experiences of joy and happiness for the systems and sub systems and parts at all levels.

The whole system then changes and moves in tune with its environment, in a harmonious way that is similar to a Dance.

Ramkumar is the author of this article and is  with Promanns Management Services Private Limited.