The difference between change and transformation

Change and transformation are buzz words these days. Yet, I wonder how many people take the time to reflect on what these words really mean. For example, consider the difference between ‘change’ and ‘transformation’. It may seem simple, yet it is profound.

When we understand the difference, we start to ask different questions, we open to alternate approaches, and we ourselves begin to transform. This in turn can enable us to be more effective in spurring and enabling transformation in the people, organizations and systems around us.

So what is the difference between change and transformation?

Lynne Twist, a global activist and award-winning author of The Soul of Money, articulated it well during the graduation speech she gave at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in June 2012.

“Change can change back. (We can go from conservative to liberal, from disciplined to undisciplined…) Change is volatile. Transformation is completely different – though sometimes it is called change. Transformation never makes the past wrong. It transforms it. It doesn’t deny it. It honors it in a way that you can move forward without making anything wrong, and having the past somehow now become complete, rather than wrong. Transformation has a permanence to it – where once you transform, once you awaken, once you see the stations you didn’t see before, you can’t go back. Transformation has the ultimate power of time, and what the world is crying for now is transformation, not necessarily more change, though some change may be a part of it – the route to transformation. Transformation suddenly makes the past make sense, and new futures open up.”

How do change and transformation play out in your own life?

As you reflect on these words, pay attention when you and others talk about change vs. transformation. Are you seeking impermanent change or  real transformation - the type there is no going back from. Try effecting transformation from a place of radical acceptance – i.e. a place that doesn’t make the parts or the past wrong, but recognizes it as a step on the way to greater wholeness. It is not only profoundly healing, it is also the beginning of so much more ...