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I don’t know who starts peddling these mantras, probably people like me who write self-help books. But the author may not be at fault, the fault lies with those who uncritically ingest this stuff and then keep repeating it to hoodwink the rest of us.

Take, for example, “there is no growth without change”. Ponder on this phrase for a moment and you’ll see that it’s nonsense. Growth produces change, not the other way round. We say things like “My how you’ve grown” in response to visible change (somebody got bigger).

Things change all the time (often through growth), and change can produce negative as well as positive benefits. In fact, if you look at models of change, this is what happens in the short term, change often starts with breakdown and decay. Any healthy system will grow and develop, we don’t have to make it happen. One of the paradoxes here is that often the best action is no action; we must be still and wait. By contrast, artificially induced change can be catastrophic and even produce the very effects it was intended to avoid.

Some actions do help to promote growth (pruning a tree for example), but this is a highly skilled operation that involves selective cuts – proven over centuries – to produce a known effect.

Forcing change is necessary sometimes, but not often because things usually find their own rhythm. Change for change’s sake is just part of modern mythology that discourages people from thinking things through.

Change and growth may be inseparable, and while it can be argued that in order to grow we must first change, I think this is a superficial way of saying it. True, in order to grow we must change, but what leads to the change that allows us to grow? Why, growth of course.

 

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