Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words
99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2013 Brian Remer
Updated Apr. 2013

Read my new book
Say It Quick!

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

November 2011

Change Recipe
At cousin Donna's Thanksgiving dinner the butter is homemade. Here's the recipe: fill a jelly jar three quarters with buttermilk then shake, jiggle, vibrate, wobble, agitate. Keep the jar moving. Repeat. Repeat again. By now, your arms are tired, nothing has happened, and you are ready to give up. Many people do.

But with persistence, a moment comes when you feel a "thunk" and a lump of fresh butter magically replaces the liquid in your jar. Just like that!

To produce change, stick to it. What seems like ineffective agitation can suddenly produce the result you wanted.


You can derive multiple interpretations related to the theme of this 99-Word story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.


One Interpretation
There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

Ahh, the comfort of routine. Even if you are trying to lose weight, it still feels good to sit back with a cup of coffee and a donut. And that new IT system is so much more complicated to use, even if it might save money in the long run. Novelty can be great for a while but the familiar has a strong magnetism that pulls us back to the way things have always been. Yet something or someone is always shaking things up!

Change is all around us. In fact, what is not changing? First thing in the morning, you put a slice of bread in the toaster and it gets changed into a piece of toast. Your coffee starts out hot and gets colder. You need to change the feeling in your empty stomach so you transform raw eggs to make them edible. You eat and your body grows and renews.

And what about the workplace? Isn't all work about creating change? We work to produce something that didn't exist before, to create a new outcome, or to make something different happen. If a change wasn't needed, we wouldn't have to be at work!

Say, this continual shake up is starting to sound normal, even necessary! So, why do we get worked up about change? There are many reasons. Change is uncertain; our fear kicks in. It happens too fast. It doesn't happen fasten enough. We may not have a choice in whether to change, when to change, how to change, or how quickly to change. We are too invested in the future. We are too committed to the present. It takes work to prolong a change. The list seems endless.

If we can stop our fretting and worrying, the reality soon becomes clear. The issue is not how to cope with change but how to deal with our emotions, our attitudes, and our values about change. Expecting and looking for the good in a change can help. It enables us to stay open to unanticipated opportunities. Recognizing the positive advances we are making is also beneficial. It allows us to see progress and celebrate our efforts along the way. And not giving up is critical. Sustained change comes with persistence.

With a clear goal and steady effort, one day we will look up and realize that, "thunk," the new IT system is really quite user friendly and, wow, we have lost 15 pounds!

Bonus Question:
What connections do you see between the 99-Word Story and the following quote?

"To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating yourself endlessly." -Henri Bergson, French philosopher and Nobel Prize winner 1859 - 1941


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.


Readers Respond:
Here is one response to the October 2011 issue of 99s on the 9th.

Joining the 'blame game' can be an art or environmentally conditioned. I grew up in a family with two brothers. The three of us were born within four years of each other. For many of our younger years we were nearly the same size. That meant for stiff competition. It became common in this rigid rivalry and close proximity to find a brother to blame. So, now I find it easy so say that my foibles can be blamed on my early environment. In other words, it's not my fault that that I tend to accuse others. By the way, that shattered piece of china lying on the floor, I didn't drop it, IT fell! --James, Tempe, AZ


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