Home News Commentary/Editorial Change is Inevitable … Embrace it!
Change is Inevitable … Embrace it!

Change is Inevitable … Embrace it!


By John King Ed.D.

There is an old saying that the only constant in life is that it will change. If you doubt that, try not to age. We watch young children grow before our eyes. Teenagers become more independent. Young adults strike out in the world and become productive citizens. Couples marry and raise families. Our favorite sports teams change players, coaches and strategies every year to adapt to changes in the sport and to be more competitive. Organizations change personnel, products and operational procedures to grow and ensure profits.

Life is a constant cycle of change. We have two choices.

We can fight change and remain static and unproductive, or we can embrace change and grow and prosper.

The choice is ours. Higher education is experiencing a tremendous period of change and now more than ever leaders need a process to successfully navigate through this change.

Abraham Maslow1 in his Hierarchy of Needs posits that humans continually work to move from their lowest level of needs (food and shelter) to the highest level of need self-actualization. Self-actualization, or reaching our full potential, should be the goal all of us seek to achieve. In order to achieve this, we are constantly changing to adjust to the challenges, opportunities and situations that life presents us with. It is through challenge that we grow.

Throughout my career in working with individuals and organizations, I have found that many people, companies and organizations become static and unproductive because they cannot or will not adjust to the changing conditions in their environment. Change can be scary and intimidating, especially if you lack a process or the knowledge or experience to attack new and challenging situations. Fear has the habit of immobilizing individuals when they should be moving forward.

In my consulting business and various leadership positions I have often found that most people and organizations know where they currently are and where they want to ultimately be, however, they lack the process or knowledge on what they need to do to get there. Many years ago, I was working with a woman who owned a business designing jewelry. She was moderately successful but not content with the status of her business and the time and the emotional requirement to run it. She was trying to decide whether to make her business bigger or to close it down and follow another career choice. In one of our working sessions, she told me that she wished that there was a fill-in-the-blanks process that she could follow to analyze her situation and decide which path to follow. Together we made a pact that I would develop a process and prepare worksheets for her to utilize to help her get to the change she desired. The diagram that follows outlines the process we developed. Before she was half-way through with the process she identified the change she wanted to make and was on her way to successfully achieving it. I have subsequently used this process with countless individuals and organizations to achieve successful change.

Change System

As you can see from the diagram, change is a circular process. Change is not something that is one and done. Rather, it is a continual process we exercise to grow and achieve our goals.

In any change process, it is logical to assume that most people and organizations will have a general idea of the change, or OUTPUT, they desire. The clearer you can make your vision of this output or change the easier it will be to develop a plan to achieve those goals. Professional athletes often talk about visualizing their performance as a way to enhance it. The clearer we can visualize the objective in the change process, the clearer will be the steps we take to achieve it.

In the change process individuals or organizations also need to be cognizant of the INPUT they bring to the process. This input, or what skills or elements will be necessary to proceed with the change process may include education or training, any knowledge, special skills or experience they possess. Input also includes the effort and investment they are willing to exert to make this desired change occur, as well as their overall willingness to complete the process and do the work necessary.

After the OUTPUT and INPUT have been determined, the first step in the process of change is to assess the current situation. It is here that we must come to grips with our immediate environment and circumstances if we are to successfully affect change. How can we know the proper input necessary for successful change if we’re not aware of our current circumstances? Any good business knows that it is important to take a regular inventory. Quite simply, an inventory lets the business take stock of its assets. It lets them know what they have on hand and what they don’t. An inventory will give them important information that they need to plan for the operation and growth of their business, ultimately determining the value or worth of the company. An individual or organization can inventory their strengths and weaknesses, the things they like about themselves or their organizations and the things they don’t like. Points or pride and current skills can be inventoried as well as those that need to be developed. In essence, a full and thorough evaluation is needed to determine what needs to be changed.

Next is to eliminate any barriers to change that may exist. There are a lot of barriers that can stand in the way of successful change…fear, shame, lack of experience or skills to name a few.

If you do not eliminate the barriers, successful change becomes extremely difficult if not impossible.

There are many barriers that get in the way of making meaningful change. Fear is one of the major ones. There are many other barriers that keep us from realizing our dreams. Ignorance is one of them. Quite often a lack of understanding or knowledge prevents us from achieving our goals. The answers to our problems might be close at hand but often pride or ego get in the way. These barriers do not need to stand in the way. They can be eliminated by honestly evaluating the situation and what needs change.

Once the situation has been assessed, barriers have been eliminated and a thorough evaluation has been conducted, it is time to develop a plan of action. A plan is your road map or set of directions for getting where it is that you want to be. Individuals and/or organizations that do not adequately plan for change often get lost during the process. A plan should include a mission, defined core values, goals, identifying needed information and the steps necessary to achieve plan goals.

After the plan has been honed and refined it is time to implement the plan. You will never get anywhere on any journey through change if you do not get started. Sometimes, however; getting started can be the most difficult step of the entire process. The hardest part of any action is the decision to act. Once the process has begun, it’s often amazing how easy the action itself was, however; individuals and organizations can become immobilized in trying to get off the dime and begin. Nowhere is this truer than in trying to make changes in life situations. Procrastination and making excuses asking “What if?” questions can result in reasons for doing everything except what really needs to be done.

Once one has worked through the process outlined they should at this point be experiencing the output of that process … results. By simple definition the output is the end result of any process, in this case change. The challenge now is to evaluate that output. Is it what was expected or desired? Does it meet personal or organizational needs? Are the results satisfactory? Are there new personal or organizational goals that can be achieved? How easy or difficult was the process? Is there anything that could have been done differently or better? Is the organization in the right place now? It is critical that during the journey that the process be kept interesting and motivational to help navigation and progress through the difficult parts of the process.

This leads to the FEEDBACK phase where one contemplates the process and what is the next challenge or change to be addressed and a restart of the process.

Webster’s2 defines feedback as “The transfer of part of the output back to input…as in information.” Once again, our friends at Merriam Webster’s are right on point in linking their definition to the process of change. If any process is to be successful especially one that is constantly recycling itself, it is essential that information about the success or failure of the process be transferred back as input for further consideration and refinement. In the context of the process presented here feedback is vital information about the consequences or end result of the process that is fed back to the input phase of the system to help make better decisions about how change can be realized more effectively and successfully.

I recently had the opportunity to utilize this process to achieve a personal change. I have always needed to watch my weight and for years I used training for marathons as a method to maintain my ideal weight. A few years ago, I semi-retired and moved to Florida and reduced my level of running to adapt to my new lifestyle. Unfortunately, the pounds came on quicker and with more gusto than I desired and eventually I found that I was uncomfortable with my condition. I assessed my situation … I was fat and determined that ice cream, pizza and peanut butter were not my friends. I eliminated barriers to change … I stopped denying my weight gain. And stopped buying bigger clothes. I conducted a self-evaluation making an inventory of my eating habits, both good and bad. I developed a plan by consulting a nutritionist and developing an exercise and eating program. I got started, remembering that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit and tracking my efforts and results daily. In five months I lost 50 pounds and got back to my ideal marathon weight and I have kept the process fresh and maintained the weight loss.

I recently read an article in “The New York Times3 ” about Eliud Kipchoge the most prolific marathon runner to date who just set a world record of 2:01:39 at the Berlin Marathon. Mr. Kipchoge said that he follows a personal formula “MOTIVATION + DISCIPLINE = CONSISTENCY” which I think is perfect for thinking about the process of change. If one has the motivation to change and the discipline to thoroughly work the process than an individual or organization can consistency realize all of the output or change that they desire. I personally love this formula because throughout the years I have consistently utilized this change process through all of the challenges and opportunities I have encountered with the motivation and discipline to successfully realize change and positive results. If a change is necessary for your life or your organization this is a proven process that can work for you. All that is needed is the courage, the discipline and the motivation to utilize the necessary input consistently working a process that results in the output or change you desire. Good luck!


  1. Maslow, Abraham, Motivation and Personality. New York, Harper & Row, 1954.
  2. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, MA: G&C Merriam Company, 1996.
  3. Cacciola, S. (2018, September 14) Eliud Kipchoge is the Greatest Marathoner Ever. The New York Times

John King

DR. JOHN KING is a seasoned professional dedicated to providing strategic services for organizations seeking improved operational effectiveness and growth through change or strategic direction. Dr. King can be best described as an educator, entrepreneur, futurist, innovator, marketer, strategist and leader.

John King is an independent strategic consultant based in Naples, Florida. Throughout his career, John has been focused on bring innovation and forward thinking to the organizations and institutions with which he has been associated, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Lincoln Educational Services.

In addition to serving as SVP and Chief Academic Officer of Lincoln Educational Services Inc., he has served as Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Career Education Corporation, Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs at Brown College in Minnesota, and Dean of Business & General Education at St. Paul Community & Technical College. John has also been both a full-time and adjunct instructor at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Prior to entering education in 1988, John worked in Marketing and Communications with such firms as Campbell-Mithun Advertising in Minneapolis, Tec Trans International Inc. in Minneapolis and Allied Stores Marketing Corporation in New York. John also operated his own consulting firm for ten years and was a partner in The Creative Edge and Bijou, commercial and corporate video production companies.

Dr. King has served as chair or trustee for various colleges including Lincoln College of New England, Lincoln College of Technology – Columbia, MD, and McIntosh College in New Hampshire. John has also served on the Dakota County (Minnesota) Private Industry Council, the Eagan, Minnesota Economic Development Commission, the Small Business Management Program Advisory Committee of Dakota County Technical and Community College, the Employee Assistance Program Advisory Board of Family Service of Greater Saint Paul, and the Small Business Publicity Committee of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. John was also on the Board of Directors of the Twin Cities Marathon.

In 2010 Dr. King was featured in the cover story “Who Influenced Education This Year” in Career College Central Magazine.

John earned a BA in Economics at St. Bernard College, a Masters in Education from the University of Minnesota and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas.

Contact Information: Dr. John King // Independent Education Consultant // 862-438-7039 // King0558@verizon.net



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