There comes a time in the life of many or us realize that we must evolve in order to survive and thrive in the days, months, and years ahead. The skills and coping mechanisms that propelled us to our present crossroads will not suffice for the rigors of the road ahead. Ideally, we realize this before someone beats us upside the head with our deficiencies, and advises us to evolve, now, or else. With the benefit of time, we enjoy the luxury of introspection and self-direction.
For some of us, this realization comes in childhood when we begin to understand that the world for which our parents prepared us is a much nicer and simpler place than the world we actually inhabit. My parents, for example, felt that most challenges in life could be overcome by intellect and critical thinking, grounded in a solid appreciation of music, literature, and art.
All that’s of very little use, however, when the schoolyard bully extorts your milk money, day after day, or when the high-school bully demands that you orient your exam paper so that they can cheat off it. It’s also of little use when the demons of depression take hold of your youthful spirit and fill you with suicidal thoughts.
When we’re old enough to see where our life is headed, we’re also old enough to begin our own preparations. Under the critical eye of a strict and controlling parent, however, we learn to be circumspect in our evolution. One by one, we pull the threads from the tapestry woven by our parents and teachers, replacing it with more utilitarian or decorative that better suits our character and our destiny.
Over time, the entire tapestry evolves to something vastly different. On any given day, though, there’s little evidence of any change at all. Our machinations go undiscovered. Yet we’ve slipped our collars, shaken the dust out of our fur, and left that back yard far behind. We’re off on our own now, and ready for the scary world out there.
In my case, the evolution was from book smarts to street smarts, from sadness and fear to wit and grit, from follower to leader. It has taken quite a long time, half a century so far. admittedly not long in geologic time, but certainly a slow transition in human time. I’m still a work in progress… I hope. I’m still learning how to be a grandparent, a business owner, a southerner, and a retiree.
I’m grateful to whatever people and forces sparked my desire to make the changes that have brought me this far inspired me to continue the journey of self actualization. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, surely we owe some credit to anyone who helped us to take that step.
It’s not only people who have to evolve. Organizations need to examine themselves with this same critical eye to ensure that their mission and methods will enable them to succeed.
One needn’t look far to see organizations that have lost their way or fallen from grace, often as a result of clinging to the game-plans of the past. The GOP is a classic example.
Although I was raised by Progressives with strong Democratic voting and activism tendencies, I grew up believing that Republicans were still good people who happened to hold other beliefs than “we” did. A friend, neighbor, colleague , or family member could vote Republican without fear of being shunned or ostracized.
Somewhere along the line, probably as the threads of America’s tapestry were being pulled out and replaced as a result of our changing demographics, the GOP bus took its first wrong turn. Every mile it’s driven since then has been a doubling down of that wrong turn. Like billionaire Sheldon Adelson, throwing more millions into a failed candidate “investment” is the only approach the GOP seems capable of understanding. It’s not working.
Personal change begins with introspection and honest analysis. That’s hard enough to do on person at a time. Getting a large, amorphous mass that is the GOP to embark on a journey of introspection is a virtual impossibility.
It’s little wonder that the GOP clings to Creationism over evolution. Evolution offers the possibility of continuous improvement. Creationism tells its adherants “you’re perfect the way you are! Don’t change a thing!”. Lulled into a false sense of security (or as I like to say “delusions of adequacy”) by this saccharine messaging, there’s little reason for those who identify with the GOP to effect any real change. If they double down on their bet, surely they’ll win the next time around.
The current GOPer-on-GOPer animosity that’s breaking out like springtime storms is one sign that anything is better than looking inwards. There’s nothing wrong with the party, some believe, it’s just your wing of the party that’s the problem. If we could just jettison you guys, we’d get the party back on track.
If you’ve ever tried suppressing part of your personality as an individual, you know it’s an energy-draining proposition. You have to be on guard every waking moment to ensure that your real self remains locked away lest someone see what a fraud you’ve been. Now try suppressing part of a vast, poorly aligned organization. It’s not a pretty sight.
Even those who’ve courageously stepped up and spoken out for some GOP introspection and evolution to meet the challenges of tomorrow are met with scorn. “No!!” the others cry. “We’re fine the way we are! We’re just misunderstood!” The pesky voters, though, can see right through the party’s blatant fraud, and they’re not buying it. The GOP establishment – and the many warring factions can only fool some of the people some of the time. Mathematics – never their strong suit – is not on their side. The world is evolving, with or without the dinosaurs.
While we can’t do much about this situation (other than enjoying some popcorn with our schadenfreude), we can take some personal lessons from the GOP’s slow-motion implosion. There but for the grace of [insert name of deity or belief system of your choice] go any one of us.
Let’s make sure that we’re using every bit of our intelligence and instinct to continue our personal evolution, thread by thread. We’re wily little mammals. Let’s make the most of it.