Reflections After the Change Shop

Change Shop is such an interesting name. And I did, in fact, expect to be changed by the experience.

Was I changed? I’m not sure. If I had been, would I necessarily recognize that fact? Certainly, I feel strong now. I don’t always manage to express that strength, and when I do it sometimes comes out in an inappropriate manner. But it’s definitely there. So where did it come from? Was it poured into me by the instructors and the other students? Or is it something integral to me, a part of the essential fabric of my being?

I’ve changed. But the me inside rejects the thought of being changed. I haven’t lost anything. I don’t think I’ve gained anything, in the sense of having it plugged in from the outside. I’ve rearranged parts of myself (perhaps literally!). The power now flows easier, it wells up from the depths and can be dammed or freed as I choose.

As a child, I felt weak and vulnerable. Was I powerless? Or was it the power inside me that allowed me to survive?

Power comes in three forms, the power to say Yes, the power to say No, and the power to Endure. The last is the raw skeleton of existence. It is left when there is nothing else. Some people get stuck there, I think, and that truly is tragic.

Overlaying that is the power to say No. For many years, I couldn’t do that. And when I can’t say No, when I am caught in the concrete of endurance, I become a victim. ‘No’ is power. But it is not the greatest power. ‘No’ is reactive. It can only respond, it never initiates. The greatest power is that of ‘Yes.’ Yes initiates. Yes is active. Yes adds energy. Yes is power.

And ‘yes’ can never be thrust in from outside.

Edited - Sept 2016

I wrote this essay 18 months after attending Jerry Weinberg’s Change Shop Workshop in January 1995. Change Shop was a seven day, experiential workshop that introduced many of the philosophies and methods Jerry uses in his management consulting. It was an intense, densely-woven seven days and for me, at least, the learnings did not stop when I left. 20 years later, and I’m still mining gems from my subconscious.