Change or Die?

 “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.”
― Lao Tzu 


I spent last weekend in a suburb of Detroit (which could easily be any town in the US) visiting friends, and took a drive to downtown Detroit on Saturday afternoon. Detroit once known for its cars and music is struggling, bankrupt and is a city of abandoned buildings. It seems stuck and unable to turn its fortunes around, whether because of the declining auto industry, politics, corruption, brain drain, suburban sprawl, bad urban planning or just economics. I came home pondering questions, more than on other trips to Detroit.

What makes a city, a person, a company be able to innovate, grow, change and succeed in the face of grave challenges, competition and strife? Why does one company succeed whilst another faced with the similar issues dies. Is it a willingness mindset to be nibble and flexible in changing courses and being open to all possibilities that makes the difference? Is it great leadership and vision not only at an executive level but also at the personal level? I am sure there is a ton of research and conjecture on this topic but the trip was a big reminder to me that nothing stays the same. I have to be willing to grow and change in order to flourish.

My visit also reminded me that in the midst of decay, death, sorrow and challenges, there are always some bright spots filled with laughter and flowers helping us through the dark days. Detroit’s RiverWalk which faces Windsor, Canada across the Detroit River, is one bright flower in a city of shuttered dreams.

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