We pay too much attention to emergencies — the big events — in government, in cities, in business and in our careers.  We miss the subtle changes that drive real change.

That is how marketing consultant Seth Godin sees it. In a recent blog, Mr. Godin argues that most of society's institutions, businesses, even our careers can withstand external shocks and survive.

"No single technology destroyed the business model for newspapers…the writing has been on the wall for decades.  No single event demolished the music business.  It was a series of slow changes over the course of two decades, all the way back to the CD," he writes.

"Smoking killed far more people than terrorists, it just wasn't as dramatic."

One bad interview, one disaster meeting, a botched sales call or a terrible decision is not a game changer. "The sudden impact of one event isn't sufficient to change everything forever."

He argues that we should not worry as much about what happened last week or last month. We should stop focusing on today's hype — the breaking news, the talking heads with their mixed bag of opinion regarding the dire consequences we face — all of the noise.  Mr. Godin believes the frenzy of the here and now distracts us from what really matters.

"The glacial changes of years and decades are becoming more important, not less," he believes.  With advice that seems to challenge the conventional wisdom of any number of current management fads, Mr. Godin declares that we should "focus on what happened 10 years ago and think about what you can do that will make a huge impact in six months."

The subtle changes that will alter our lives — our businesses and our careers — are right in front of us, hiding in plain sight.

© John Gregory Self Share/Bookmark

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