People Change

One of my favorite duet songs by 周杰伦 (Jay Chou) is 珊瑚海 (Coral Sea). In it, he describes how a sand sculpture, once destroyed, can never be put back to be the same. Even if it is rebuilt and the sand re-used, the sand sculpture, be it a castle, a model or a tower is not the same as it was before. Research have shown that, once every 7 years, every single cell in our skeleton is replaced. Are we, thus the same person, as we were 7 years ago, if every single part of our body has been replaced?

People change over time. However, it is said that “First impressions last forever” and, while not really forever, impressions are hard to modify. Just as a child’s first contact with any issue or subject shapes his or her basis of understanding for that topic, so does first impressions forms the core of our understanding and attitude towards particular persons. Caught in a bad moment, we can dismiss a person easily as shoddy or careless and it may ruin our relationship with him or her for quite a while.

Unknowingly, we put people in boxes like sorted objects and label them for easy reference. “Lazy”, “Troublesome”, “Sexy”, “Workaholic”, etc… In objectifying them, we no longer see them as people. “Leadership and Self-Deception”, a book by the Arbinger Institute has taught me that in objectifying people, we see them as obstacles or resources to be overcome or used. We see them as less relevant, less important and less real than us when in fact, each of them live a full complex life just like me. The worst of these is that my resistant to see them as people forces them to react exactly in the way which only serves to confirm my treatment of them.

People are people and they change. Even in Harry Dresden‘s world where true names have power, people’s true name are hard to master because they change with time as the nature of the person changes with time. So,in looking at these issues, I realize at least two truths. Firstly, I can change and I change no matter I like it or not. The choice is what kind of person do I want to be in 7 years time when all of my cells are replaced one by one. Secondly, the people around me are also changing and they do not stay the same. Essentially, I believe that they all want to do good, excel in their chosen profession and live a good life. While in any human system, as a leader, friend and subordinate, it is in my power to see them as who they want to be and help them realize that dream. It is more often that they are limited by ability than by choice in making mistakes as they do.

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