Big Flippin’ Change

Watching everyone deal with the $1.5 billion Powerball phenomenon is the best kind of people watching. Listening to the ‘what I would do’ stories, imagining the outcomes — good and bad — of finding yourself catapulted overnight from normal to extraordinary. Thinking, in your own head, about whether or not you would be the person who survived with your personality intact. Swearing that you would definitely be willing to roll the dice and give it a try.

It’s fun because for all but the handful of people who ended up holding the three winning tickets you are speculating about a big flippin’ change without actually having to experience it.

We all have to deal with change every day. We absorb little changes like the grocery store moving the peanut butter or your kid moving from third grade to fourth. Maybe something a bit bigger, like switching up normal by going on vacation, buying a new car, working on a new project or renovating a room. Even a new job or a new house — none of those are big flippin’ changes.

Winning $300 million dollars or $10 million per year? Yeah, that’s a big flippin’ change.

When you experience a little change over time, it’s like a series of promotions over a career. Each time, you get to grow a little, adapt and understand what it means. It’s like a series of rainstorms where between each one the ground is able to absorb the moisture, soaking into the earth and filling the aquafir. But what if you went from the mailroom to the CEO in one day? What if one day you were just the best-looking person in your hometown and the next you were on the cover of Cosmo?

It would be crazy, right?

Life is designed to give you a glide path, one step at a time, from a start point to an end point. That’s why the big flippin’ change plot line is so popular in movies, it generates a ton of conflict for the writer. A big flippin’ change almost always results in someone struggling mightily — either as a hilarious comedy or a heartbreaking drama. The lotto isn’t the only common construct that results in a big flippin’ change plot. Mr. Mom is one of my favorite movies, centered around an unemployed Michael Keaton who has to completely rethink his role in his family and War of the Roses tries to envision a couple (Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner) whose relationship falls apart but they try to ignore the big flippin’ change. We love to watch the pratfalls and carnage of a big flippin’ change.

The problem is, very few of us like to live it.

Good or bad, comedy or drama, living a big flippin’ change is hard. The world swings so significantly that nearly every decision requires effort, and not a little effort but a lot of effort. Because everything is unfamiliar it is chock full of the downside of ignorance: self-doubt, external criticism, bad decisions and worry. I have seen even people that I consider to be incredibly resilient buckle under the pressure of a big flippin’ change, because they can’t handle it or the people in their circle can’t support them through it.

I get that there is something romantic about the notion of the big lotto win. I bought a ticket, too and lived in a dream world for a minute. But when the numbers were drawn and I didn’t win my immediate reaction was relief. I want to believe that I have built a strong foundation that could handle the wind and waves of a big flippin’ change hurricane, but I’m glad I don’t have to tempt it.

I think that it’s probably for the best that I keep absorbing my changes — one thunderstorm at a time.

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