Thomas Jefferson on Change

jefferson-quoteOn a recent to trip to Washington, D.C., I was captivated by one of the quotes inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial.  The quote (pictured right) reads:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Written in 1816, I was struck by the timelessness of these brilliant words and ideals.  They are relevant well beyond the political arena.  So relevant in fact, when I swap a few words (forgive me Mr. Jefferson) we have a manifesto for the validity and importance of personal, professional and organizational development and transformation.

I am not an advocate for obsessive self-scrutiny and unrelenting self-improvement, but growth and development go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, individuals and institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

In other words, as your awareness and understanding of yourself, your workplace, your surroundings and those around you increases,  as you grow and change, don’t be afraid to cast off old, established behavior patterns and habits if they no longer fit.