A Change is a Comin'

Posted on July 16, 2014

“You will never know how much you believe something until it is a matter of life and death.  If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad”

C.S. Lewis

You can feel it in your bones can’t you?  Maybe it’s because the economy is improving and the engines are on again (we are in Real Estate by the way), maybe it’s because my 18 year old son starts college this year and I remain in denial, or maybe it’s because you are facing new job responsibilities.  Maybe it’s because of a significant personal challenge you or your family is facing.  Whatever it is, you can feel it….change is coming.  

As we welcome new associates from Crescent Communities to our CNL Commercial Real Estate family, this word "change" is prevalent in our organization.  Often times we define people in terms of their relationship with change i.e. "she is fine with change" or "he hates change".  Personally, I love change, even change that I hate.  My experience has been that when change has solid motives behind it the results are universally positive, even when the intended result of change fails.  Sometimes it takes time to realize this.  When I look back over my life and honestly reflect on the most significant changes, they were the ones that occurred at the forefront, in the midst or directly after an event that I initially viewed as negative.  These changes are also the ones that I hold out as milestone events and often say “it was the best thing that ever happened”.  Often the change that occurred was exactly the opposite of what I felt was right or wanted.  I reflect on family situations, mergers, business deals, and tragedies but within those difficult times I have seen joy and core choices made that last a lifetime.   

Change often just happens to us.  Now certainly my faith impacts my view of the world in the face of these events, but I can't help but think and look at a world that at times tries to control and prevent change.  We blame others for change, because it has to be someone’s fault, or we are quick to raise our hand and take credit for change to make our point.  I am not herein making a case for any of the social issues of our time but bringing attention to this notion that yelling and screaming at change will not make it go away.  I am also not making the case that we should bend and bow on what we believe and hold to be true.  However, I constantly remind my children that many of the priorities and principles that I believed and held to be true in my teenage years, where subsequently proven to be wrong as I entered my 20's and the priorities and goals that I was absolutely sure were solid and without debate in my 20’s, suddenly did not hold water as I entered my 30's and I am now finding that in my 40's this disturbing pattern continues.  Perhaps you can label this user error, "Paul you really need to choose better priorities" but I am not sure I am the only one experiencing this.  

Let me illustrate it this way, one of my partners was having dinner with his son doing what a good dad does, trying to pour wisdom into his child.  The topic of discussion was career advice and he shared a checklist of items for his son to think about, core principles his son needed to evaluate in his career choice.  During the drive home from dinner my partner started looking at the checklist against his own current situation.  Suddenly he was hit with the realization that not much of the checklist applied to his career anymore.  Without knowing it, over time, he had drifted away from what he held true.  In that moment a seed was planted for change and a path was laid out for him to come join our team.  In that moment he could have been upset or he could have ignored it.  In that moment he could have been overwhelmed at the prospect of change and the pain of leaving a current job or he could have blamed others, but he didn’t.  In that moment, he embraced change with courage, he processed it and because of that moment, we are a better organization.

The simple fact is the older I get, the more comfortable I am with what I do not know.  The more joy I experience with new challenges, even when there is loss.  The more encouraged I am by the future, this life and the next, despite the pain of the present…So what is my point, C.S. Lewis describes it as having proper expectations, I would describe it as having a proper vantage point.  As we face new challenges in our enterprise, welcome new associates to our family,  and get to know new customers we get to experience a new day where we have the opportunity to change our world for the better and in that choice grow, learn, make mistakes and improve. 

More to come on our mission statement shortly but as we think about changing the world through our service to others, sometimes it starts with how we view the world. 

Written by Paul Ellis
Group President of CNL Commercial Real Estate