Sunday, August 31, 2003

Change. Uncertainty. As much as we, as humans, hate it, there is no avoiding it.

For me, I think the first real encounter with change was in grade four when a good friend moved away. Fortunately, my friends and I were able to continue enjoying the rest of our elementary school careers after only a short grieving period. After changing schools a couple of times, we encountered Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in Chemistry. ["No duh… what kind of principle is that??"] And now in Masters of Accounting, we had an entire course devoted to Change Management.

One of the more interesting articles that we read was Surfing the Edge of Chaos by Richard Tanner Pascale, Mark Milleman, ad Linda Gioja. This article parallels the dynamics of survival by complex adaptive systems with those of organizations. Although the focus is different, I think the principles are also applicable to individuals. The most noteworthy one:

Equilibrium is a precursor to death

"What do you mean??" was my first reaction, especially considering the intended topic of this blog. In Chemistry, we learned that all reactions tend towards the equilibrium state; finding balance or equilibrium is often the objective to most efficiently utilize resources.

The authors argue their case based on a law of cybernetics, which states that survival of any organism depends on its capacity to cultivate, and not just tolerate, variety in its internal structure. For example, fish in the ocean are subject to many threats and variation, but are more robust as a result. Compare those fish to fish in aquariums, which are much more sensitive to the slightest disturbances.

Thus, yes, equilibrium is an objective, but not an end goal. To be able to cultivate variety in an equilibrium state means that we must not only be adaptive to change, but actively embrace it. As my friend Sherrie says, (who is on the more extreme end of the "embrace" spectrum,) "Life is about change: change means progress, and progress means that life is not stagnant. I certainly don't want to live a stagnant life."

Our comfortable lives now are only a result of *some* generation of individuals who decided to pursue a better life abroad. Consistent with the principle of the markets, the higher returns require the higher risks – and definitely, not only referring monetary or tangible rewards – think of the risks that people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Martin Luther took, and their effective rewards.

Although death as a result is a huge exaggeration for individuals, the significance of being averse to change is emphasized.

Looking to Scripture, nowhere does it indicate that we are to be happy where we are. In fact, complacency is one of the greatest dangers that we are to avoid. Instead, we are to constantly develop, mature, and transform ourselves [Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 12:2].

And even though uncertainties are inevitable along the way, we are comforted by his promise to guide us:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
-- Proverbs 3:5-6

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Regularity, what a concept.

After having training in Toronto for 2 weeks, and currently adhering to a regular study schedule, it feels nice to go into a routine and just prepare for the UFE, which is on September 16-18... so that is coming up *very* quickly!! In any case, it has been quite nice... I guess to me, the UFE is just like any other final examination, and that's a good thing, because I *love* finals. Haha...

I *have* been sleeping early too! Usually, no later than 2am, which is quite significant! This brings me back to my pre-university days! Haha, it feels good to be regular though. =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Praise God. =)

It's this time of year again... if you know what I'm referring to. =p

In any case, I guess this is supposedly also kind of a "big year," with graduation, UFE, and whatnot... and yes, I praise God for bringing me through these five years of development. But as these five years draw to a close, these accomplishments were not the significant things that touched me today...

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from an old friend in Toronto. We were never really that close, and we didn't talk very much throughout my university life, but there were those times before when I guess I took some time to listen to his ranting and helped him figure some stuff out. It is humbling to see that he remembers and still appreciated little things like that... it has been very encouraging to receive simple notes from a number of people... much more appreciated than any gift I could ask for.

I am not proud of the many friendships with which God has blessed me over all these years...

But I am in awe from seeing how God has worked throughout all of my friendships, to know that people are touched and inspired and challenged not by my prompting or wisdom, but by His guidance and work... it is truly amazing to know that it is God who has used me in my weaknesses, and to be blessed with seeing the many fruits of his work.

It has been nice to hear from many old friends back in Toronto, and I look forward to going home and reconnecting from where we left off. And to a select audience, you know who you are, it does not mean that I will disconnect my friendships here, but that God will continue to challenge you in many different ways... as He continues to challenge me in many different ways in my new, old environment...

Praise God. =)

"Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge Him.
As surely as the sun rises,
He will appear;
He will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."
-- Hosea 6:3