Many of you reading will be asking, What on earth is Perturbation and what's it got to do with me and my shop?
Well, prepare yourselves because it's an endlessly interesting law of thermo nuclear dynamics, and if you can see what's happening at the macro level, then you can take it back down to the micro level!
The second law of thermo nuclear dynamics is essentially, that things are either growing of dying, moving forward or going backwards, things cannot stand still, they may appear to, but in fact they are always in a state of flux. If you want proof of this, look at an old photograph album, and think about all the things that have happened to the people in the pictures. You'll get my point.
The whole point of life is that it can't stand still, its always moving, and it's the same for people and the businesses they run. The dictionary definition for perturbed is essentially "an alteration of some state" So, lets explore that idea.
In order for change to occur, pressure must be applied. We mostly prefer to stay within our comfort zones, this is also human nature. But in order to grow and develop we have to step outside our comfort zones. As children we do this automatically, but over time life kicks us in the teeth a few times and we learn that it can be a bit dangerous to step out too far, so most of us curtail some of our dreams and ambitions, and settle for less than we're capable of. It's a fundamental contradiction, human nature versus the universe.
Ilya Pregegine, a Russian born, Belgian theoretical scientist won the Nobel Science prize in Chemistry in 1977, for his work on change, that ultimately led to the laws of thermo-nuclear dynamics. He found that in order for change to occur, pressure must be applied. So to get out of our comfort zones, ultimately we must also have pressure applied or perturbation.
Perturbation is essentially the pressure before the change. So for instance, when you switch on a kettle, the water is at first cold, slowly heating up because of the pressure applied to it, which culminates in the water boiling and entering a different state, its now boiled water. Obviously the water didn't choose to be boiled, it didn't have any control over it, but it got pertubated all the same, and it was different after going through this process – see any similarities to life yet?
The biggest difference between inanimate objects that get pertubated and us, is that they don't make it mean anything. If we were the water, we'd be complaining, wondering how it happened to us, and looking for someone to blame.
So its probably best to stop fighting it, and go along with the process, trusting in the outcome, and knowing that its part of life, things change, and we have to change with them. Sure we'll fight them, because that's part of our nature, but in the end accepting it, will make the path more enjoyable and us open to new possibilities.
How many people have created new possibilities out of being made redundant, or found new love after a messy divorce – millions of them!
So, what's this got to do with business and retail?
Everything! The world around us is in constant flux, leaders come and go, morals and social morality evolves, trends explode and fade away, fashion erupts and meanders, economies go up and down. We have to stay at the forefront of this movement, watching, learning, educating ourselves so we can make considered judgements and evolve our businesses. It's easy to see a business where the owner has given up, or doesn't know what to do, there's an air of despair about it.
Once in a while, perturbation will hit a country, just as the recession is doing now in the UK, causing pressure, panic and worry for millions. But it's just a principle, like all the others that govern our lives. Looking at a macro level, if we accept that this is going on, and seek to find how we can innovate and evolve our businesses, this will be a more beneficial use of our time than bemoaning our fate.
When the dust settles on the economy and the casualties of change have been wheeled away, it'll be an altered world, and the best way to be successful in an altered world is to see it coming and be prepared.
Remember for any change to occur there must be pressure applied, when enough pressure is applied we reach a point of perturbation. We actually are perturbed, this is when we go out and do whatever it is we were putting off doing! There is no pressure when you're comfortable, this discomfort precedes all change, whether you want a new house, business or partner, the rule is always the same. So it would be wise to use this rule like a superhero, for good! If you know the rule, don't work against it, because you won't win, you'll just exhaust yourself trying … go with the flow, looking forwards not backwards.
On a final note Ilya Prigegine, who I think we can agree was a pretty smart guy, also said: 'the world is richer than it is possible to express in any single language "which is pretty cool and a nice way to be remembered.
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