You Cannot Have A Future Without Change

Cheryl Fowler
Cheryl Fowler

By Cheryl Fowler, Office of Policy & Education
ESD – OSCA, Oregon Judicial Department

Like it or not, life is a whirlwind of change. Our society moves at a pace that far exceeds any other time in history and change is a reality we face each day. Change can be a very positive thing when it is implemented effectively, efficiently, and with encouragement. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as often as it could or should. But regardless of how change is implemented; regardless of how we feel about it – change is here to stay.

How do you react? Do you embrace change or do you hate it? If you hate change, do you only dislike the aspects of change that you can’t control? Sometimes you are the initiator of change, but more often you are the one told to make it happen.

This past spring my “work” world was turned upside down. Through a reorganization process everything I was doing in my job was disbursed, except judicial education, all staff were shifted to other areas, and I felt the dust swirling around me as I wondered how I was going to handle this change. Once it started to settle down to where I could see a few things more clearly, I realized that this change could open possibilities for me that I haven’t had available for several years. One of those was reestablishing my membership with the National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE). I knew that this organization would provide me with opportunities, colleagues, and resources to be able to continue the work I have known for the past 18 years and I could provide others with insight and knowledge from my own experiences. I decided it was time for a change and I would embrace it.

If you view change as a chore, you’ll be much less likely to willingly accept it and use it to your benefit. So how about changing how you react to the possibility of change. When we are faced with change we generally react with an excuse why it shouldn’t happen, can’t possibly happen, or absolutely will not happen. We find all the excuses why change just will not work. What if we think about change differently? Instead of being negative and finding excuses, counter the objection with a new way of thinking. When Thomas Edison was asked why he failed so many times in making the light bulb he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Without continuing to move forward he may never have discovered the best solution to make it work. So how do we think differently and change our excuses into reasons to keep moving forward?

Top 10 Excuses for NOT Changing…and the counter objections!

  1. “We have always done it this way”” Just because it was successful in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way now…or that it will be in the future.
  2. “We have not done that before.” At one time, everything we do now was something we had never done before.
  3. “We tried that before and failed.” Unless all conditions and circumstances are exactly the same, failure of the past should not dictate our successes of the future.
  4. “If it isn’t broke, let’s not fix it.” Change doesn’t mean it’s broken, it only means we need to improve it.
  5. “It’s too much trouble.” The greatest rewards in life usually take the most time and energy.
  6. “It’s too expensive, and we just can’t afford it.” We can’t afford not to, or we will not have progression.
  7. “It will just change again soon.” It may change tomorrow, or it might not change for some time. Regardless, our fears of the need to keep changing should never prevent us from doing so.
  8. “I like it the way it is.” It may be good the way it is, but it could be great the new way. Besides, if we never moved away from what we like, we may never know how much better something can be!
  9. “I may not be needed after the change.” With change comes a time to grow. This may be your chance to do new and exciting things.
  10. “It’s too risky.” The greatest rewards always come from the greatest risk.

As I jumped back into membership with NASJE I wasn’t satisfied to just dip in a toe here and there but to jump back in head first. With the gracious support of leadership, I was able to attend the 2018 NASJE Conference where I established connections with new people and became reacquainted with individuals who I had come to know during my previous membership. I joined the communications committee, so I can keep up with the pulse of information and was re-inspired to develop strong education programs with positive learning experiences. The passion I saw and felt in others, those who led sessions and those who attended just like me, renewed my excitement for judicial education. I decided that as I returned home I was ready to face this change challenge and look to a new future with our judicial education programs.

Remember, what you do today is what impacts the type of day you will have tomorrow. Start thinking today about how you want to impact tomorrow. You cannot do it without making the necessary changes and you cannot have a future without change.

Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
–John F. Kennedy