Seeds of Change Blow Where There Is a Will

This is a Thanksgiving affirmation for all those stubborn and persistent carriers of the seeds of change.

You know them. You might be one. I got to thinking about people who preserve and propagate the seeds of new thinking and ideas long after the big futures research project is over when two contacted me via LinkedIn within the past two weeks.

One led a national association six years ago during a major futures research and visioning project. She reconnected to say thank you for facilitating the work and said “I keep looking for the future already happening and finding ways to seek better solutions for kids and educators.”  Her note was timely because I had just that week told someone else I doubted that futures research project had led to many changes. But perhaps my assessment was wrong as long as a few determined people are thinking differently.

The other unexpected contact came from a person who won a major innovation award in her field and wrote to acknowledge how she used insight into future workforce requirements to inspire a new approach to her institution’s internship program. She grew something new out of the possibilities we discussed.

The seeds of a dandelion are the perfect image for how change disperses and propagates. The caretakers of the status quo are determined to keep their worlds neat and tidy. Yet those well-tended lawns are hard to protect from random dandelion seeds determined to colonize a new field of opportunity. It takes courage to be a dandelion seed.  

So in this week of Thanksgiving 2013 let’s recognize and applaud the people who do not give up on an idea the future needs. I see them all the time; I should say thank you more.

There are the visionaries like futurist Clem Bezold of the Institute for Alternative Futures who never misses an opportunity to challenge organizations to envision how they can contribute to health for all and accept responsibility for working toward that future. May he never stop raising this question I've heard him ask many times.

Or like Colleen Kigin, a forward-thinking physical therapist with the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, who kept the idea that PTs have a role to play in changing society alive from the PASS Summit she chaired in 2009 through to a new vision the American Physical Therapy Association adopted in 2013. She kept this challenge on the association’s agenda until many people understood and embraced the need to turn outward in serving society through optimizing mobility.

Sometimes the seeds have to blow to more fertile ground.  I have enjoyed watching talented association leaders take their energy and intelligence from an association where they were thwarted to one where they can take risks and innovate. These fast-learners are determined to evolve the association model for the future. While I am not sharing their names here, I continue to learn from them.

Even if we personally lack the stubbornness, persistence and courage of these carriers of the seeds of change, we can play a role in their success.  A gentle puff of air will help carry their seeds far until one person’s weed becomes our next golden opportunity.  Say thank you.

(Photo credit:  James Mann, http://www.flickr.com/photos/james_mann/)