In last week’s post, I wrote that change readiness is primarily about the capacity to succeed in the change process. Today, I want to take this idea deeper.

I want you to think about the ocean. If you were on a ship far from the shore, your primary experience of the ocean would be shaped by its surface. Sometimes the ocean might be flat, like a pond with small ripples. Sometimes it might be choppy with a rhythmically undulating surface that brings a lively dynamic to a sea journey. And at other times, the waves could be huge, tossing aside even the biggest of ships.

But the waves on the surface of the ocean are only part of the story. Below the surface, unseen currents, thermal gradients, and density variations impact your experience in less obvious ways.

Whether you experience tiny ripples or monster waves, all such experiences are encounters with the ocean itself. It shows up in different ways, making variable demands on you.

So, what does any of this have to do with change? We can think about our experience of change like the waves on the ocean. In the same sense that each wave is different from all the others, each change is also different from all others. Some are tiny changes that require virtually no effort. Some are much more challenging but well within our current capabilities. And some are difficult beyond our current capabilities.

In other words, the change process, like the ocean, shows up in different forms.  Sometimes, it demands very little of you. At other times, it demands more than you can currently supply.

Change readiness is mostly about readiness for the change process. To use the ocean analogy, it is a readiness to sail through whatever forces the ocean throws at you. Sometimes these are surface forces relating to contextual issues and sometimes they are deep, psychological forces. Change readiness is the readiness to succeed at the demands of the change process – however, they are experienced.

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at