The More Things Change The More They Remain The Same

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Ninth Work Anniversary

I am reminded of this famous saying on the occasion of my 9th work anniversary as CEO of Anand and Anand

The More Things Change The More They Remain The Same

This might sound odd, as we are living in unprecedented times and are collectively and individually going through experiences that we have not even heard before. So, how exactly are things remaining the same?

For starters, one thing that remains the same is my customary work anniversary note. I have been following this ritual since 2016. I remember that my team had thrown a surprise party on my 5th work anniversary. As I took a moment to reflect on the years gone by, I wrote about 5 Lessons Learnt About Managing Change as CEO for 5 years.

I followed it up in the next year with The Sixth Element and in the year after that with Seven Things I Learnt From Lucky 7. Last year, I did some Eightrospection on 8 years as CEO that is also available on YouTube.

Exploring the Magic of Nine

While the trend of work anniversary note continues, let’s spend some time to examine the significance of the associated number this year. Nine is endowed with magical powers across a wide variety of fields.

In mathematics, it is the highest single digit number that is also fun to work with. Any number multiplied by 9 ultimately reduces to 9 through repeated addition of its digits.

We consider nine planets in astrology, although astronomers keep challenging that number. We celebrate the festival of Navratri, i.e. nine nights. As per Kundalini yoga, the body has 9 chakras and the body also has 9 entry/exit points (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, 1 mouth and front and rear excretory system end-points).

If we add the numbers that reduce to 9, we will find many more examples. We have 360 degrees of a circle, 27 constellations and so many examples of the significant number 108. We also have the number of years in each yug (age) e.g. Kalyug  has 432,000 years, that also reduces to 9.

In a nutshell, the number 9 has a connotation of finality and completeness. So many things seem to ultimately converge to the number 9.

So, let me plug into the magical powers of 9 to review and introspect on my 9th work anniversary. And, let us see whether the more things change, the more they remain the same or not.

The More Things Change The More They Remain the Same

Firstly, let us focus on aspects that are Changing. This is best captured by an image that went viral some time back, asking who led the digital transformation of your company – CEO, CTO or Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic is without a doubt a watershed moment in each one of our lives, if not in the history of the world itself. It has impacted all aspects of the way the world lives – society, work, attitudes and behaviors, et al.

I am sure each one of you has had a copious overdose of messages and articles on how the world is changing, mostly for the worse. So, I am not going to dwell too much into the changing world order, the New Normal and several other such terms that have been coined. We all get it.

Moreover, one has little influence over these external factors; whatever may be the magnitude of these changes. I will try to focus on actions that are controllable in my hands.

Change at the Workplace

Going back to the viral quiz on the driver of digital transformation, I for one, believe that if you can’t beat them, join them. So, in addition to visualizing the coronavirus pandemic as an enemy (which it most certainly is); I also believe that I have one of the strongest change agents working for me. The short term pain inflicted by this change agent is catastrophic. However, it has the potential to help us metamorphose our future. And trust me, I have not seen a bigger change driver in my 25 years of work experience.

How to Stay Positive and Productive

Switching track from the workplace, I have also maintained that the lockdown did provide an unprecedented opportunity at a personal level. I wrote an article on things to do during lockdown and received positive reviews, in addition to the post trending on LinkedIn. This encouraged me to expand my own horizons and I expanded upon the initial ideas to publish a book on Amazon on How to stay positive and productive during the coronavirus lockdown. The book received wonderful reviews, a rating of 4.8 and achieved an Amazon BestSellers Rank of around 2000, without any marketing spend or publicity.

Upcoming Changes

Coming back to the workplace, the biggest changes are yet to come. People have been forced to work from home (or not), during the last few months. However, admittedly the research and thinking on productive remote working is far from over. I have loads of thoughts on this, but some of my readers have accused me of writing very long articles, so I will resist the urge to get into a tangential overdrive on optimal remote working models. However, I do promise that I will publish another post with my thoughts on this. And who knows, another book too?

The More Things Change The More They Remain the Same

We all await the changes in the offing, few of us with excitement, and most of us with anxiety.

This is not at all surprising and serves as a nice segue into the next section of what remains the same.

The Psychology of Fear

The psychological make-up of mankind and the systemic exploitation of these innate biases by the media remain absolutely the same. I consciously stopped watching and/or reading news (not just the ones on WhatsApp) for a reason. I do occasionally pick up the newspaper these days and it serves as a testament to my decision. Corona-gazing may be new, but the practice has been followed from time immemorial. Characters may come and go, but the script lives on.

Survival of the Fittest – Or the most Adaptable

We all say and genuinely believe that the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. No living human being can recall similar memories from their own experiences. However, we only need to turn the clock back to see how things do remain the same. There have been several recorded instances of pandemics, including the Spanish Flu, exactly a century ago. If we go back farther in time, we will find examples of species being wiped out. Ultimately, one needs to be adaptable to change. The more things change, the more they remain the same. And the higher are the odds of the adapters thriving amidst the turbulence.

Keep Moving; Momentum is Everything

I did mention about the note that I had written about 5 lessons from managing change. Each of those lessons continue to be relevant even today.

For instance, I had written about Momentum. The current pandemic has managed to sweep us all off our feet and bring all our initiatives and endeavours to a standstill. Or, so it seems.

One just needs to take a step back, regain one’s composure and get the juggernaut rolling again. Nothing succeeds like success and nothing moves like momentum.

A Stitch In Time, Saves Nine

Finally, it is the time to bring it all together. In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, I could not but help, write about generic principles that impact our overall society and the workplace and workforce construct.

It is time to put our learning to action and turn our focus on things that are both controllable and important in our lives. No one knows how long the impact of the coronovirus pandemic is going to last. However, as history has demonstrated, each such crisis is followed by a period characterized by growth and opportunities.

On my ninth, I believe that no matter how much things change, I would always like to push a little more and be prepared for a better New Order. After all, a stitch in time, saves Nine.

Read more from my earlier notes on my 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th work anniversaries to see how the plot has stitched together over the years.

Now, how’s that for things remaining the same in the wake of change?

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