November 14, 2008
Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
Alcoholics Anonymous has many sayings. My friends who are active in AA tell me that the one that has meant the most to them through the years is “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Like many wise sayings, on the surface it seems so obvious, even trite, but after you let it sink in for a while its wisdom begins to work on you.
The wisdom of this saying is the fact that it addresses the disconnect between one’s desire for change and one’s actions. How many times have each of us desired some change (lose weight, spend more time with family, develop a spiritual practice, save more, get more organized) only to find months, even years go by, without any progress on making the change a reality.
Why the disconnect between intentions and actions? Let’s turn to Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion to shed some light on this topic: “Because of inertia, a body at rest remains at rest, and a body in motion continues moving in a straight line and at a constant speed, unless a force is applied to it.” A simpler way to say that is “a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to say in motion, unless some external force is applied.” So that explains it! Individuals, families and organizations that are “stuck” will stay “stuck” until some external force is applied. Individuals, families and organizations that are growing and thriving will continue to thrive until some external force disrupts their momentum.
Combining the wisdom of AA and Sir Isaac Newton, here’s my recommendation for any person, family or organization that wants to change. You must seek out and invite an outside force to help you change. Along with AA, I recommend two outside forces: God and other people. First, ask for help from a Higher Power to fuel the change you seek. Second, let others know about the change you seek. Build a team of people to inspire you, cheer you on and help keep you accountable. Recruit your friends and your family to help you. Recruit a mentor, pastor, coach, consultant, support group or therapist to guide you.
Don’t go it alone. Just like our president-elect is doing right now, build your own transition team to help you succeed in making the changes you desire.