Change is inevitable…and so is resistance

Being at a juncture in my life where I am listening for the”what next”, I’m having a hard time knowing how to implement this prompt. So I’m going to use it as a time to reflect upon a couple of examples of what worked/didn’t work in the past to create change.

I remember when I had to move my office a number of years ago that I was noticing how I react to change. It dawned on me that when I want to make a change it is exciting and I’m eager to embrace it, but when the change is imposed by someone else or some event not of my choosing, I resist, grouse about it and have to work through my resistance to acceptance. Even when I want to change myself, like trying to exercise more, I have to find ways to motivate myself as I struggle with my inner resistance. I suspect that is true of many of us. That is why the ideas of empathy/enrollment ring true to my own experience.

I was working in Kentucky and a young man who worked for the farm service was bemoaning the fact that he was trying to get folks to grow strawberries as a cash crop instead of tobacco, which was governed by the industry and everyone was given an allotment they were allowed to grow. This is another reminder for me that we adapt more quickly when we choose the change versus when its someone else’s idea, no matter how good it is.

As a community development investor, I look for projects that a community has developed and is committed to rather than one created by an “agency.” When the community members are committed they will persevere through problems and challenges and find ways to be successful. They are in it for so many reasons that they can’t afford to give up! As an investor I always try to convey that we invest because we want them to thrive. That we will be patient when they hit an obstacle, that we will try to connect them to other resources, that we will not penalize them if they tell us they have a problem, that we will work with them to create a solution. And when they thrive, the impact is enormous and immeasurable! I wish the new “impact investors” would understand that this is the point! Not to do well, which you have obviously already done since you have money to invest, but to join others in their plans so that they do well.

I also realized during my time in Kentucky that our own experiences can be very limiting. That there is value when another person has different ideas based on their experience and can open one’s vision to new possibilities. As we strive to become change agents, the ability to help folks increase their vision and scope of possibilities in such a way that they become open to the change and not resistant is invaluable.

I have learned through trial and error that when friends are going through a hard time, though don’t need my solutions, they need my empathetic listening. They need to know they are not alone. They often have the answer within them. Sometimes they ask for suggests or reflections on what they have said, but only when they ask is it received. This is another example of enrollment that I have experienced.

Then there’s the continuum of innovators, early adapters and late adapters that affects how people react to change. I experienced this in my community as we went through major changes in religious life, everything from how we dress to how we govern ourselves.

As I seek to help folks consider changing the way they invest, how shall I craft the conversation to engage empathy and enrollment? One of the difficulties we all have is walking in another’s shoes, so how do we help a person of wealth develop empathy for those who face barriers they didn’t know existed? How do we help them understand that it’s not about control? Not about the risk-return continuum? not even about measurable outcomes that they want to see? This is going to take more time than I have for this prompt, but I’m eager to engage others in this workshop to examine these issues from the lens of enrollment.

Published by Corinne Florek

I am very interested in promoting the cooperative model for workers as well as consumers. I think we need to change the infrastructure of our economy and cooperatives are my preference. I have been involved in community development investing for over 40 years and now that it is called Impact investing I want to critique what is wrong in the current thinking.

One thought on “Change is inevitable…and so is resistance

  1. “As a community development investor, I look for projects that a community has developed and is committed to rather than one created by an ‘agency.” I agree that bottom up always works better than top down. I’m currently reading the book “Winners Take All: the Elite Charade of Changing the World” and the author shares your critique of impact investors and the new market-driven change ethos.

    What resistance have you encountered when you raise these critiques with impact investors? Identifying the specific points of resistance may surface opportunities for empathy and enrollment. In my conversations with people pursuing impact investing there seems to be a belief that “there is no alternative” to the way investing is currently done. I wonder if the conversation may need to start at the university level before they enter the field. Have you explored developing an alternative curriculum for students interested in community development finance?

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts and commentary on our weekly calls. Your perspective is so valuable. I look forward to seeing what work you step into next.


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