time for change

When a teaching assistant to Albert Einstein discovered the erudite professor had given a set of examination questions to a particular class of Physics students at Princeton University that he had given the same class in the previous year, he was compelled to ask him why he did that. Einstein simply replied the young man saying, “The answers have changed.”

To be able to respond successfully to the changes happening around you, it is important to have an understanding of the times that you are in for the principal reason that the times determine what is to be done. The times should influence your response and by responding appropriately, you secure an advantage for yourself in your endeavours.

Different times not only in world history but in your own life as well present different challenges, problems and opportunities; they therefore demand different responses and responsibilities. To maximize your success in any field and live a life of impact, you will need to keep evolving responses that are applicable to these changing times. The times convey definitive messages on prevalent needs, precautions to take and course of actions to embark on in order to obtain repeatable successes.

A vital key to Barack Obama’s historical emergence as the first black President of the United States in the 2008 elections was his ability to understand the times the US was in the few years leading to the presidential elections. He understood what messages the times were conveying about the US and the world as a whole. He clearly understood that there was general discontent towards the US as an aftermath of her unilateral approach to prosecuting the so-called war on terrorism following the 9/11 Al-Qaeda attacks. Obama also understood the US economy was under a severe strain and therefore built his campaign theme around its restoration. He equally understood that the Internet offered tremendous opportunity as a tool for electoral mobilization and participation hitherto untapped to achieve massive political gains. He understood and tapped into the power of such social networking and video sharing websites as Facebook, MySpace, Beebo and YouTube, resources that were not available to previous generations of politicians. He deployed these technologies to amass political capital and unprecedented financial support. Obama understood the times and responded appropriately.

Similarly, your decisions, skills, proficiencies, outputs, contributions, products, services and approaches to issues must be relevant to the realities of the times. In his summation of the global economic slump of 2008-2010 dubbed ‘the Great Recession’, the greatest since the Second World War, Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning Economist simply stated, “The model of 19th century capitalism doesn’t apply in the 21st.”

The key to success is really simple: it is in knowing what to do and doing it at the right time. It is not so much doing just about anything as doing the right thing that guarantees success. This is why the fact that you do today what others did yesterday in a venture does not necessarily guarantee you will achieve desired success in that venture. The task may be the same but the approach required may have changed; as Einstein said, the question may be the same but the answers may have changed. As a consequence, what worked yesterday may not work today and what worked today may not work tomorrow.

In the words of Dennis Meadows, author of Limits to Growth, “The habits that gave us growth and progress in the past will not give us growth and progress in the future. We will see more change over the next 20 years than in the past 100.” The needs of yesteryears, the challenges of yesteryears, the solutions of yesteryears and the answers of yesteryears will not always be applicable today.

Written by : Ayo Adebamowo


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