Evolution. Change. It is ALWAYS difficult, on some level.
This past week I have felt a lot of things come to a head when it comes to facing up to changes.
I am involved in assessing a big development planned for my community, some of it on my street. It is quite simply (and breathtakingly) transformational in nature. In my professional life, I am a negotiator. I am paid to analyse situations, to understand winning versus losing positions, and to recommend compromise in order to get deals done. Change and evolution – of a position, of ideas – is a part of my job description. Sometimes we cannot get the evolution we need from our counterparties. In times like that, we take a hard look at the situation and decide: is it worth walking away?
Now, is community life and public policy the same as my work context? In some senses, yes. We have to look at a situation, putting ourselves in the shoes of the officials, assess a proposal on its merits and within its context. As emotional as we would like to be, when it comes to dealing with government, emotion may be great in generating publicity but if that is all you use it for then you will miss the compromise, the ability to strike a deal. At the end of the day public officials will do as written, making fact based decisions in line with laws and guidelines.
So we have to leave our hearts behind when we want to get the best deals we can – at work, in our communities – in light of what is realistically achievable. We must evolve. Or we risk walking away empty handed.
Able Bodied Thinking
In and amongst the exchanges I have had with my neighbours about plans for our area, one of the things that has come up is access. Equal access for able-bodied and disabled residents.
My wake up call for managing life with a progressive degenerative nerve condition was my stairs. I live in a tall old house with a lot of stairs. Back in spring of 2007 walking up the stairs started to become REALLY CHALLENGING. It was my driver for doing my first triathlon. I figured I needed to get stronger and fitter so that I could walk up my stairs for as long as possible. After all, my house is our “forever house.”
Government has enshrined accessibility for all with its legislation, guidelines, and regulations. One of these rules is that brand new properties should have level access with the ground – so that chair users can enter, just like everyone else.
It is hard for some people to comprehend that – even compared to the 1990s – times have evolved. Meaning that sometimes stuff like this winds up in my email:
“[the developer should] ensure disabled access from behind to give the front [of the new property] the charm of our irregular step arrangements along the street.”
So yes. Some of my neighbours think that it is perfectly acceptable for able bodied people to use one door, and for disabled residents to enter their flats via a different door – the back door.
It is 2015. So what if houses were built with stairs in 1726? Let’s consider things from today’s perspective. Let’s Celebrate the fact that today we all are equal. And therefore the design of our buildings should embrace equality.
We all should be able to go through the front door.
Society is a richer place because of change.
Since December I have been working with Maggie and Kelly of Strong Body Whole Heart, going through their Life By Design programme. I signed up because I wanted to work on aligning my choices with my values – and I wanted some help, some new ways of thinking, to do so.
Little did I realise so much of the course would be about understanding myself. My drivers. My beliefs – and limiting beliefs. And then through awareness changing my patterns and shifting my thinking. So that, ultimately, my self limits evaporate and I can live truer to my self.
I will say one thing. Change – this type of deeply personal change – is bloody hard.
But it sure beats self combustion!