Change vs. Transformation

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life time of experiences.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

What are you experiencing in your world and life: change or transformation? Have you noticed that there are dynamic shifts going on everywhere? Are they Changes or Transformations?

Change and transformation are much used words these days, and they tend to be used interchangeable. Yet, I wonder when we use them, or hear them, do we really take the time to reflect on what they really mean. How would you define the differences and distinctions between ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ in your own use and understanding?

It may seem that they are the same or that there is very little difference. Yet the differences and meanings are profound and when we understand the difference, we have the opportunity to:

♦ Start asking different questions, ♦ Open to alternate approaches and worldviews

♦ Experience life differently ♦ Contribute to our own transformation

♦ Give greater expression to life ♦ Reveal our true higher self

This expanded insight will enable us to be more effective in inspiring and enabling transformation in ourselves, people, organizations and the systems around us. Today, change and transformation are impacting almost every area of our life and world. They are pervasive and are seen in technology, worldview, cultures, attitudes, government, management and leadership, organizations, churches, families, personal relationships, etc.

Let’s see if we can better understand the terms in a physical sense.

Change is doing something in an incrementally different way. For example. The move from wax cylinders, to acetate discs, to LPs, to CDs — these were all changes.

Think of a square. Let’s CHANGE that square. It becomes a rectangle.

Now take the same square. This time, let’s TRANSFORM that square. It becomes a cube. It “expresses” more of itself. It has an added dimension. And when you think about it, all life is at essence, about; “giving more expression to life itself” This shows up in the concept of; “Infinite Possibilities,” as we realize that no two snowflakes are the same.

Transformation is doing something so dramatically different that it becomes a qualitative shift, not just quantitative.

Suddenly I can carry my entire music library in my shirt pocket, and my digital music player (which also happens to be my smart phone containing GPS, videos, and so much more) has no moving parts, unless you count electrons. That’s a transformation.

Change requires becoming familiar with the current situation, and working to make things better, faster, cheaper, or some other “er” word. The past is the fundamental reference point and actions are intended to alter what already happened. The success of a Change initiative is judged by efficiencies and economies that are realized at the end of your effort, compared with when you started. When you choose Change, your future is really a reconditioned or improved version of the past. Change is focussed on conditions and circumstances, of the past and present, and makes adjustments that bring them into alignment for better results.

Transformation is an assertion that our actions today create our future tomorrow. This re-envisioned future can be described and realized when you free yourself from constraints of the past. In transformation, you design your future and invent ways to bring it about. Transformation doesn’t describe the future by referencing the past (better, faster, or cheaper); it births a future that is entirely new. Like change, transformation also begins with firmly grasping the current state of affairs — the “What Is” of the currently perceived reality. Without an intimate understanding of our “What Is,” we’re delusional about the future from the outset. When you choose the path of transformation, it becomes easier to leave the past behind after thoroughly considering the “What Is.” As we take responsibility for and accept “What Is” in our life we can transform it.

You can then permit yourself to envision the future freely. You can be open to expand your perspective as to what could be. You shift from making things right, to seeing things right, with an expanded vision. Then you take authentic actions to assure that this vision becomes your new reality.

In transformation. one functions from an awareness of consciousness, vision and intent. It is a shift from information to knowledge, and then to wisdom. It does NOT make the past wrong, but realizes that there are expanded ways of seeing and perceiving reality. It opens the doorway to “Infinite Possibilities.” It provides a path to greater and fuller expression.


Change is doing something in an incrementally different way.

Transformation is doing something so drastically different that it becomes a qualitative shift, not just quantitative.

A caterpillar adopting a different coloration to camouflage itself is change. A caterpillar turning into a butterfly is transformation.

People no longer buy information – there is a flood of free information. What people want is transformation. They want information, knowledge and wisdom that transforms. (People don’t just want information about health, they seek knowledge that transforms their health.) Accordingly, we are NO longer in the Information Age we are now living in the Transformation Age.

For example it is fascinating to note that Steve Jobs, at Apple was able to not only transform computers and the digital experience into a whole new market, as he advanced the growth of the Information Age, but that he also ushered in the new era – the Age of Transformation.

What will you transform? To get started, ask yourself these Shift Questions:

1. What is the highest expression of the value(s) I contribute? How can I transform my contribution to an even higher level?

2, What is my strongest talent and gift and how can I apply it to transform lives and the world?

3. Can I think of two or three transformations that I’ve experienced in the last several months? Observe and study these examples and identify the essence of these transformational processes. How could I apply this expanded knowledge to my own life, projects, career, organizations, etc?

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