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The Architecture of All Change Processes

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim ...Read More

We’ve got spirit, yes we do,
We’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?
1-2-3-4 we’ve got more than you can score!
-A Cheer, Source Unknown

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.
-Albert Einstein

How simple is simple, without it becoming simplistic? Einstein knew, and can we? Recently this writer was exposed to tidbits of information of disparate origins that all seamlessly began to fit together. Call it random chance, synergy or serendipity, and the fact remains that a picture began to take form. So often every one of us is exposed to bits and pieces of information that go nowhere and mean nothing, or so it appears at the time. It is only later that these snippets of sensory input begin to make some sort of sense. In fact, I suggest that in just about any life moment, interaction or transaction, it is only during the event itself or sometime later that anyone discovers what that moment held in store for him/her. In other words, when about to engage or actually engaging in some activity, social event or venture, it is purely during or afterwards that you can begin to honestly see what that coming together was actually all about.

Some illustrations might help. Consider going to a casual gathering of friends and some business associates. Going in you figure you would have a pleasant time and might leave a little early to see that movie at home. In the ensuing interaction, you stay most of the evening given you hit it off with someone you barely know and the doors for a mutual rewarding relationship blossom in work and play. You surprised yourself! Or take the instance of being asked to accompany someone on a business presentation and you imagine it would be pleasant enough, but nothing more. It turns out you share an avid interest in fine art and classical music, which opens up a fulfilling friendship in these arenas. Or take the occurrence of going to a High School reunion without any expectations and with some unvoiced anxiety, only to reconnect with an old buddy from several decades ago as well as an old flame. It goes on and one. Rarely if ever do we know on the front end what we are doing anywhere, since we would only find this out when we are in the event itself or thereafter. Strange but true this is, nearly all the time.

Within this context of both simplicity without being simplistic and embracing not knowing, the unknown and the unknowable until it reveals itself in every present moment or thereafter, an intriguing architecture for all change processes was recently revealed. Since a majority of us learn best visually, graphs are especially useful in learning anything. With a graphic picture of accurate data points over time regarding any behavior, much is revealed. Each point can also be considered a metaphor for a stage of maturation and growth. Isn’t this the essence of all graphs and change? Of course, what do I know?

With 1-point you have an occurrence, instance or outcropping, nothing more or less. There is no pattern since there is only 1-point. At the level of 1-point, little can be said and less acted upon without such actions being only impulsive and foolhardy. Change can well be afoot even when we are the last to know of it. With only 1-point, how conscious can you be of change? Can a change be seen with 1-point?

With 2-points a movement is afoot. It may be a stagnant movement, an upward or increasing movement or a downward or decreasing movement. Whichever direction the two data points offer over time, there is something going on. You may like or dislike the movement, be elated or depressed over the movement, or be highly interested or indifferent to the movement. With 2-points that are the same, the only thing we see is more of the same. With 2-points that are not the same, a change is beginning to be seen. While two points do provide a movement, it is severely limited with what anyone can extrapolate in terms of what it says or means. Even with the 2-points movement in an area of interest, it is unclear what longer-term direction the data is pointing to and what it means and the implications of it.

With 3-points a trend is evident. With three accurate data points the floodgates of seeing a change swing wide open, so long as they are not a straight line going horizontal. With 3-points the movement of 2-points now becomes clearer in terms of some direction and possible intensity of a change. Trends are most evident in the tracking of stocks, consumer services/products and scientific research. To be attuned and go with a trend is considered to be astute, reinforcing the homily “the trend is your friend.” Any accurate 3-points with stocks and other financial vehicles can show both a direction and the level of interest in terms of volume. With this information you can begin to see whether that stock is at a turning point up or down with or without volume, going sideways with little direction up or down and little volume, or something else. I don’t presume to be all that knowledgeable about these matters, and you can’t help but pick up a few basics. Trend direction and strength equally apply to other areas trends are utilized. While a 3-points trend is a stronger indication of change, it is hardly definitive.

With 4-points-or-more a revolution and paradigm change is now occurring. When you find 4+points that move in a clear direction different than the previous status quo, you now have a revolution and paradigm change. There is no magic to 4+points that continues a trend in whatever direction it is going. When a qualitative and/or quantitative shift occurs that is not the same as the long-standing previous patterning, then something else is evident. Those who are the earliest spotters and earliest adapters of 4+points paradigm change will stand to reap the greatest benefits and rewards in any field. Often such visionaries see the revolutionary change before others do and become entrepreneurs in start-ups and raise venture capital to develop, actualize and fulfill their dreams in leading civilization forward.

So the architecture of all change processes is remarkably simple: 1-point, 2-points, 3-points and 4+points moving in a clear direction different from the previous status quo. Like in any field, pattern recognition (aka, issue spotting, problem detection, trouble shooting) is critical to stay on a successful course and not get caught up in past inefficient and ineffective behavioral patterns. Once a pattern is recognized, seeing and building upon 2-points movement to 3-points trends to 4+points paradigm change, then the pattern is fair game to be most functionally and practically elaborated upon. For instance, when you see a paradigm change with 4+points, it is a time to take action as soon as you astutely judge is worth taking action. A relevant example parallels the aphorism in the stock trading game of “the first money lost is the best money,” given the wisdom of getting out of a mistaken purchase with some loss being highly preferred over losing a lot more by holding on while it sinks. You pay a high price indeed for staying at the fair of life too long! The same logic applies in many investments when an upward trend is reversing and it’s time to cash out your chips before losing hard-won gains.

To put this proposed architecture for all change processes together in one uplifting illustration, take the universal example of meeting someone who turns out to be the love of your life, although at any step either party can lose interest and bail. 1-point occurrence is the first meeting, sometimes another one years later, when little, some or great interest is sparked. The 2-points movement occurs when some mutual attraction, shared values, great conversation or a friendly ease of being with each other is evident, typically to both parties, early on in dating. The 3-points trend arises at the juncture of a deeper resonance, heart-tug and fascination. This comes forth in the ensuing days, weeks, months and sometimes years of knowing each other. This now looks like serious dating, an exclusive relationship, cohabitating and these days possibly having children together outside of marriage. The 4+points revolutionary paradigm change occurs when each knows s/he is with their life partner and their life will never be the same again, culminating in a committed, great relationship and marriage. Since usually no one knows what purpose or meaning anything has until the moment itself or thereafter, isn’t life sweet, wondrous and exciting to have a front-row seat on the change processes of life as it ever evolves?!

Keep Reading By Author Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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