Change, understandably, challenges all of us on some level.
Many changes have been forced upon us over the past two years; changes in format, changes in expectations, changes in routines and our priorities all together. The pandemic continues to change how we operate and connect.
But what if we focused on what we can control — our perspectives.
Generally, resistance to change comes from those who have institutionalized a perspective or a definition because it either benefits them in a particular way as broad as comfort, nostalgia, or security — or because they find such convenience in the current situation that they do not question why “that’s how it has always been.”
Why, though? Because it’s the easiest path? Because we don’t quite know what we can be otherwise? Because all seems to be “just fine?” Resistance to change can prompt multiple outcomes: It can sometimes mute the real opportunity, which is called compromise; it can simply override opportunity altogether; or, even worse, it can push those who do see more and perhaps better opportunities to simply walk away and take that energy where it is welcomed.
I believe we all want to see our city grow and become more attractive, interesting, and welcoming. In Memphis, the “we” is bigger than “thee.” Change—not maintaining the status quo—is the key to growth. A community as diverse, dynamic, and significant as ours cannot operate in a linear fashion, and we must believe more in ourselves and our potential. Quite frankly, other communities should be fearful of the result if Memphians fully recognized and energetically acted on all of our potential.
Many objected to the notion of attracting an NBA franchise to our city. If you recall, it was similar to a hotly contested political race. Can we not all agree that the benefits to our community have been positive ones? Was that not “change?” Was the change of perspective on the Pyramid not validated with one of the most iconic retail establishments in the country? How about the perspective on the once-shuddered Sears Crosstown building or the future of 100 North Main?
Importantly, what should never change are our core values of integrity, honesty, and clarity in an effort to advance and evolve as a community. As such, when we have those characteristics at the core of efforts, do we not find conflict within ourselves when we object to that advancement?
Yes, new construction causes road traffic and dust. Yes, a name change can cause a change in habits. Yes, a billions-dollar investment in our region can forever change the definition of a region and Memphis’ role as its epicenter.
Our discipline and commitment to that change — to letting go of the fear of its risk — is mandatory to see the evolution we all desire here in Memphis. Growth cannot exist without change. Let’s continue to embrace the positive evolution of and by our community. Just imagine if we say “no” less and start to say “what if?” more frequently.
Doug Carpenter is principal and executive creative director of DCA, a creative communications consulting firm based in Downtown Memphis. The firm’s focus on results-driven communications strategies has yielded award-winning work for iconic Memphis assets including Memphis Public Libraries, Folk’s Folly, Dunavant, Big River Crossing, Mighty Lights, and Liberty Park. The firm has also founded and instituted other Memphis originals, such as Tennessee Brewery: Untapped, Loflin Yard, Explore Bike Share, and most recently Discover Memphis Naturally and Fieldaze festival. For more information, visit dcamemphis.com.