Is holding on to tradition more important than change or trying something new? Are change and trying something new more appealing and intriguing than holding on to tradition? Do we hold on to tradition just because that is the way we were brought up and traditions are a comfort zone for us?
There are so many questions that could be asked, and certainly no shortage of opinions when it comes to the topic of tradition. I think the question I really want to explore is this one: Does our traditional thinking ever get in the way of our personal growth, community effectiveness, or business productivity?
Sometimes I think we hold on to tradition to preserve a special feeling or connection to something in our past or something connected to someone in our lives or from our past. There is nothing wrong with that - as a matter of fact, I have certain traditions that I still hold on to or practice because they bring back amazing memories of my grandmother or grandfather. And yet there are other traditions that I was holding on to just for the sake of holding on to them. Even though intellectually I knew that a change was needed or warranted, my pride in clinging to tradition would win the battle.
Recently I was visiting a church that was about to celebrate its 160th anniversary. The church was small, beautiful, and had a wonderful congregation. Many of the regular worshippers had been attending this church for many, many years. Generations of families filled the pews, and being such a small church in a small town, everyone knew each other quite well.
After the church service everyone gathered for coffee and some light pastries and cakes. The topic of discussion that morning centered around whether or not a new audio/video system should be approved for the sanctuary. A new system would change the look and feel of the sanctuary and this had many of the traditionalists in a bit of a panic as they believed that nothing should disrupt the physical appearance of the sanctuary as it stood today. Yet others who had visited neighboring churches or attended church services in other areas shared how the use of audio and video really helped connect the message for them and especially helped their children connect to the message.
The latter group believed that a change was needed in order to attract new members to the church and to help continue to build upon the legacy of the church that had been established 160 years ago. And the other group felt it would be disrespectful to cut into the walls and mar the sanctuary in any way.
As I listened to both sides of the debate, I couldn't help but think about what I was holding on to just for the sake of holding on to it. Was I living in my own comfort zone full of traditions that I was unwilling to give up for no other reason than "just because"? And just like this church I was visiting, perhaps the old guard in my own heart and head could easily have the same debate: Do I preserve the traditions of my past and present, or am I willing to shake things up a little and grow? I guess the answer is somewhere in between.
So how about you? Are you a traditionalist? Or are you OK with breaking through your comfort zone a little from time to time and going through some changes that can help you expand your thinking and grow? Either way, I would love to hear all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. And when we can ride the balance of holding to certain traditions while exploring new ways of thinking and behaving, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.