Three Kinds of Change

Published: May 10, 2023

The first change that draws most people’s attention is the unfair event that alters their stability. The second kind of change is the one that you, yourself, instigate. Others react to this one like you would respond to the first type. The third kind of change is constant and quiet. We age. Our teams evolve. Succession happens. The first and second examples consume tremendous amounts of leadership and H.R. energy. What many people don’t realize is that the third is an even more valuable expenditure of time and talent.

Every day, the telomeres lengthen and shorten on the ends of our DNA strands, depending on the amount of stress or compassion we experience. Our lifespans are extended or reduced with every interaction exchanged. Cells just below the intestine’s surface divide every twelve to sixteen hours, so the digestive system is refurbished every few days. Imagine how that plays out internally whenever we are worried or stressed.

While the large-scale injustices of other’s decisions and our own pivots are most visible, the continuous evolution of living things happens below the radar. You simply cannot have an interaction with another human without causing impact or being impacted by the emotional exchange. You will either be weakened or strengthened. Each exchange is usually too small to measure, but they add up powerfully.

They add up to form the culture of the workplace. They shape your attitude about going to work. They make you yearn for Fridays and dread Mondays. Everything happening counts. And there is far less separation between home and work than people realize. Nobody leaves one at the door when they enter the other.  It’s one life with many venues.

Whenever you become inured to any level of dysfunction, your wellness takes a hit. Whenever you tolerate the tiniest disrespect, you compromise your immune system. Whenever you sanction toxicity, you shorten your lifespan.

Go ahead and rail at the sky about the questionable decisions made by leadership. Then, let others react to the changes you’ve triggered. Both change management responses will advance you to the next day. But if you want to make a lasting impact on the quality of your life, personally or professionally, start paying attention to the little things.

If you have your wellness, you’ll have everything.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.