TCS Daily

Living in the Delta

By Kevin Stumpf - September 24, 2003 12:00 AM

Living -- working and aging -- has changed. You can't expect to shop at the same store for the same products all of your life. You can't expect to do the same thing for the same company all of your life. You certainly can't expect to wake up everyday to the same surroundings and circumstances. Perhaps once you could, but not any more.

The only constant in life is change. Look at life this way: we live on the planet earth, but we live in a state of constant change.

So what's this delta thing? It is a short form for "a state of constant change." Why delta? The Greek letter delta -- ? -- is used in science and business to represent the change in something being measured. Hence we can be frugal and picturesque at the same time by saying: "we live in the delta."

You'd think the Information Age Generation would be the most adept change-handlers yet, but we're not. We are as unprepared for change as any previous generation. I cite the boom and bust as proof.

Why is that? Could it be because we tend to focus on change-events instead of the nature of change? We usually wait and react to change don't we? When it happens we usually act surprised and victimized. Some even try to outwit change.

Why don't we try to live with it?

If we really understood the nature of change we would be better prepared to live with it. So let's do that. Let's explore change with the goal of being better able to handle it as we work, as we grow old -- as we just go on living.

What Is Change?

According to English dictionaries, change is a noun and a verb, but while living amidst relentless change neither explanation helps. The delta is all that matters.



Change is the act of becoming different


Change is becoming different


Change is the difference between
the way someone or something was and
the way she, he, or it is.

Here's an example to prove the point. Let's say you try leaving a parking lot that has had the coin payment machine changed for an online banking machine and you didn't bring any credit or debit cards with you. Does your mind fill with the thought that the parking lot has experienced the act of becoming different or do you grumble over the fact that yesterday you left the parking lot by sliding a dollar coin in the machine and now you can't leave because all you have is a dollar coin?

Characteristics of Change

Change is inevitable, fickle, prolific, and metamorphic. The effect of change needs more words to describe, but change itself doesn't -- just 4 words.


Everyone and everything changes, in some way, every moment of everyday (and I'm not talking about fashions, automobiles, consumer electronics, or computers).


Change is sudden or gradual, wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned, unique or cyclic, predictable or unpredictable, lasting or fleeting. Only fools try to outwit change.


It is true change begets change, but the real significance of this characteristic is that next change is greater than the last. Loud music begets louder music. Implied sex on TV begets overt sex on TV.


Change changes everything, not just what seems to have changed. For example, by the time domestic robots can safely wash dishes, the food industry will have changed so we might not need dishes.

Living, Working, and Aging in the Delta

We have choices. We can ricochet from one change to the next and let change continue to disrupt our lives, or we can take to heart the fact that life is change.

Change is not restricted to events. Change doesn't just occur at a serious traffic accident that leaves you legless nor is change just the result of winning a lottery. Change is as common as time.

Because change is inevitable, remain calm. Take comfort in the fact change is normal and is happening all of the time. You might not know what, where, or how, but you know something will change and there's power in that knowledge.

Because change is fickle, practice the Golden Rule. In lieu of trying to control change be flexible so "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

Because change is prolific, know history. Spend time reading about and learning how people, processes, and the planet used to be so you won't repeat old mistakes as you respond to or bring about change.

Because change is metamorphic, practice head-heart coordination. Head-heart coordination will help you see the connections between everything and everything else. When you know what you feel and feel what you know you'll be able to see all sides and implications of change.

Don't let change paralyze or shock you. If you can breathe you should be able to handle change because changing is just as natural as breathing. The delta isn't a good place or a bad place to be, it is the only place we can be. See you in the delta.


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