written by LOU BLASER

A version of this essay first appeared in Midlife Cues, a weekly newsletter about intentional living in our middle years. Get it in your inbox; you're going to love it.

☕️ THE MAIN THING

We all know what happened to Kodak and Blockbuster.

These companies are classic case studies for their inability to shift and adapt to changing times. Some now are saying Netflix is showing signs it’s fallen into the same hole.

It’s not like these companies were caught completely unaware. There had been signals which they refused to take seriously.

Kodak even had the technology that could have saved them already within the company. But they chose to shelve it and stick with the “tried and true”. The rest is history.

For many years, I worked for a company that was the complete opposite. It was out there, always watching, always feeling for shifting wind. It instigated change, promoted change, and embodied change. It asked all of us to learn not simply to cope, but to swing, with change.

A partner I used to work for told me the trick was to get good at changing tires while the car was in motion. Another told me to pay attention to the drums and to be on the watch for any change in their beats. And that no matter what happens, always focus on being relevant.

This is all good, me thinks, when we’re talking about companies, businesses, and organizations.

But what is the equivalent of this in our personal lives?

How can we be agile and easily able to adapt to shifting sand in our lives, our relationships, our health, and our circumstances?

How do we avoid being blind to the signals?

And how do we leverage what we already have to bridge us from where we are today and where the tide may lead us next?


🔗 BUILDING ON THIS

  • Video: Navigate and Embrace Change | Simon Sinek. Sinek answers several questions, starting with, “Do people need to change continuously?” He also talks about how to effect change in a group, community, or organization. If you like Sinek’s sensibilities, this is a good use of your 5 minutes 😉
  • Video: Can People Change | The School of Life. We often are in a situation where we are hoping that someone in our lives might change. We might even try to help them to change. But can people ever really change? Is it even okay to wish someone to change in the first place? What about loving them for “who they are”? And what if we’re the person that is being asked to change by a loved one?
  • Exactly when midlife begins is hard to pin down — harder than other developmental periods, like childhood, adolescence, and older adulthood. It lasts longer with individual experiences greatly differentiated depending on the roles we play. But one thing research has made clear. Midlife is a “pivotal time that determines the trajectory of aging. That’s why self-care during midlife is especially important, despite the busy schedules brought on by a greater number of roles.” Midlife may begin at different times and brings opportunities and challenges.

📣 HEAR HEAR

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
— Victor E. Frankl


📕 BOOK REC

Life Is In The Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age
by Bruce Feiler

Feiler says each of us faces dozens of disruptors in our lives, and one in ten of those becomes “lifequakes”, a massive change that leads to a transition. The average length of these transitions is five years. The upshot: We all spend half our lives in this unsettled state. You or someone you know is going through one now. This book can help us think deeply about times of change and how to transform them into periods of creativity and growth.


💬 LAST WORD

I am more and more drawn to the idea of instigated change, with midlife being the catalyst for examination.

It’s a shame that the world often refers to this as a midlife crisis, with a decidedly negative overtone.

To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, there is no growth without change. And if we want to drive it (rather than be driven), then we must be the ones to instigate the change.

That’s not a crisis in my mind.

Here’s to a joyful week ahead.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser

ABOUT LOU BLASER

A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Midlife Cues and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on exploring how to navigate, thrive, and turn midlife into the best phase in our life.