Well, I am a degree carrying expert in transformation. And because I have a PhD in Transformative Learning and Change, people always ask me the difference between the two and what it means to have an advanced degree in the study of them.
I love this topic.
The two words are often used interchangeably and they are certainly related; yet they are quite different. In fact, on the outside, depending on what it is, transformation and change may look exactly alike. The real difference between the two lies on the inside.
CHANGE can be incremental and it can be subtle or it can be huge, but it must be consciously sustained. The set point for change is before the change occurred. Change is maintained with thought, effort and persistence.
TRANSFORMATION on the other hand, is always big because it requires a shift so drastic that a new set point is created. Transformation is a shift in consciousness. Transformation creates a new set point. In fact, transformation creates a new reality.
Let me give you an example: I am a vegetarian. I became a vegetarian about 25 years ago. Something happened the day I decided to never again eat meat. I had a shift in my consciousness. Since that day, I have never desired to eat meat and the thought of it is a little repulsive to me. Now, I don’t care if other people eat it and I have no desire to try to convince anyone that my vegetarian diet is a better lifestyle. In fact, I constantly struggle with my weight (that’s another blog), so I would not be one to provide nutritional or diet advice. Becoming a vegetarian was a spiritual shift for me. I was transformed when I became a vegetarian.
There are many people who don’t eat meat, but struggle with the idea of not eating it. They may have decided for health reasons that a vegetarian diet is healthier or they may have decided that they do not like the way animals are farmed; yet they crave meat and desire it when they see it on the table, but have the willpower to resist. These people changed their behavior to become vegetarian.
On the outside both the transformation to being a vegetarian and the change to being a vegetarian look exactly the same, but internally they are very different. For the transformed vegetarian the diet is a part of their core being, they could not imagine it any other way.
Is one better than the other?
Probably not, but that’s hard to say. We are able to change our behaviors, but transformation goes beyond that conscious and persistent struggle to maintain a new state. Transformation is a shift that happens at the core and creates a new existence. Transformation is not something that you can control, it may or may not happen. You can decide to change and work toward that in a consistent way. In the process, transformation may occur.
The image to the left is the life cycle of a frog. I love using the frog analogy to discuss transformation. A frog transforms by nature. The tadpole is born into murky shallow water. In order to survive the tadpole must stay in the shallow water. If the tadpole ventures into deep water it will likely drown, yet if it is taken out of the water it will suffocate. As the tadpole develops legs it begins to develop lungs and must rise to the surface of the water to get some air. This process continues as the tadpole becomes a froglet and then a frog. The frog can go into the murky water, it can go on land, and it can go in deep water; but the frog can never stay in the murky shallow waters where it was born or it will die. It must leave its old environment to survive. Although the frog can return to the murky waters, it cannot and does not want to live there.
When humans transform, we often have to leave our old environments, old habits, old friends, and other old relationships. With true transformation we may be able to visit those people, places, or things but we cannot stay there or like the frog our new existence is threatened.
Whether it is sustained change or transformation it really does not matter as long as it is a move toward a healthier, more positive, and more fulfilling life.
With Achieve n 5! sustained five minutes a day actions often lead to transformation, and when worked, it always leads to significant change.
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