There’s an old saying that goes, “The only constant in the world is change.” That may be hard for some in historic preservation to accept, but I’ve often said that our job as preservationists isn’t to block change, but instead to work to manage the type of future—and communities—we want.
I was thinking recently about the concept of resilience when facing change. Author Kathleen Smith has suggested that “Many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid change, but it will inevitably catch up to them.” When building personal strategies for strengthening resilience, she begins with the Stephen Covey construct of the ”Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence”, urging us to focus on what we can control. She also encourages her readers to check their thought patterns.
“In times of change, it’s easy for your mind to cut corners. You might see everything in black or white, or you assume the worst will occur. But if you take the time to examine your thought patterns and assess how rational they are, you might find some space to nudge your thinking towards resilience….You can also generate more positive thoughts if you take the time to remind yourself about transitions and challenges you successfully navigated in the past. Make a list of ways you’ve been resilient in your life, and consider what traits and actions might be able to see you through the current challenge. By focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, you will feel more empowered to meet what lies ahead.”
There are several elements of this passage that strike me as true. I’ve seen, in myself and others, the tendency to cut corners in our thinking and focus on the “worst case scenario” when faced with change. And while the past doesn’t decide the future, we can certainly benefit when we let our present be informed by what we know from the past.
Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Change is inevitable. Resilience is not. We have to work at it to succeed — both in our communities and in our personal lives.
Have a good week.
More to come…