A Steady Kaleidoscope of Change: Knowing When to Act

Western society values action-getting things done with the early bird getting the worm. After all, creativity and innovation are what drive the American lifestyle. However, impulsive actions can lead to poor decision-making and can be as bad as, if not worse than, inaction. 

When you think of a kaleidoscope, you tend to picture the total opposite of calm and steady. Instead, you think of action. Let’s take a look at three forms of action by first comparing two extremes, aggressiveness and passiveness.


The aggressors are the proactive types, preferring offensive strategies rather than being reactionary. Seen as daring and risky, they do things their way, many times their set way, but not necessarily the right way or the best way. They seek instant gratification, oftentimes acting on impulse and not taking the time to think a situation through.

Sometimes doing the right thing at the wrong time, other times doing the wrong things altogether, aggressors often fall prey to addictions, compulsions and obsessions. They can develop the habit of repeating the same stupid things over and over in a perpetual pandemonium like a hamster in a wheel, running constantly but accomplishing nothing. Aggressors insist they are right and will not admit fault; therefore, they miss out on vital opportunities to learn from their mistakes.


Many of us go through down phases where we feel stuck in a rut or as if we are suffering from something akin to “writer’s block.” For the passive types, these feelings are pervasive and persistent. They are capable of great ideas but are rarely willing to act upon them, generally due to some type of fear-fear of change, of failure or of pain. Displaying laziness, lack of initiative or resignation, passive ones are most likely not preforming to their actual mental and physical levels.

Self-contained and watchful, passive personalities can be reactive and defensive-jumping at shadows, suspecting everyone and frightened of everything.  Fear of loss, of failure, of more pain, of being out of control, of dependence- this is anxiety. It is also a protective mechanism gone overboard due to prolonged or intense stress. Passive people may feel as if no one can be trusted, but trust must be given to someone. If you are too independent, not only will you not rely on others, you also become unreliable to others.

Much like the aggressors, passive types can often become too comfortable with the norm. Rather than striving for improvement, they persist in maintaining the status quo. Complacency can bring peace, stability and comfort, but immobility and inflexibility does not provide for growth. Although a constant state of chaos would be difficult to maintain, not to mention stressful, a total lack of change is obviously unproductive.

Now let’s look at a more equitable approach to action.


Assertive individuals are the crafty, clever and calculating ones- flexible, adaptable, resourceful, pragmatic and decided. They know when to be patient and when to act. They utilize a keen ability to not only recognize potential pitfalls and dangers but also intuit possible opportunities for gain as well.

They know when to be passive- when to plan, prepare, observe and study. They know when to delay gratification and await opportunity. When realizing the opportunity is not quite ripe, assertive types know how to persevere until the timing is right. They also know when to aggressively seize the moment and become doers and risk takers- productive, industrious, innovative and creative.

Assertive types recognize when to delegate, knowing not only who to trust but also knowing what to entrust. They are firm in their convictions but not too firmly set in their ways. They are adept at making hard decisions under pressure, and they accept and take responsibility for the consequences of those decisions, both good and bad.

Balance and Change

The key, the theme here, as you may have already guessed, is balance. Balance, along with flexibility, adaptability and being able to roll with the punches so to speak. Being able to quickly and efficiently adapt to new situations while maintaining consistency of identity, brand, image, purpose and sense of self. Always being a step ahead, not only being on the lookout for opportunities, but also being prepared for any possible setbacks. This isn’t worrying. This is being responsible. This is being ready for and looking forward to the future.

Living in the present means learning from the past, recognizing patterns, preparing for possibilities, and then selecting the best possible course of action. Permanent freedom and security evolve from flexibility, adaptability, observation, awareness and allowing for/being responsive to your own intuition. You begin to function calmly in any storm with steadiness and perseverance.

Rather than signifying weakness or laziness, a stillness can represent harmony and serenity, a going with the flow. Constant and radical change is chaotic. Change is often best implemented in small purposeful steps, in advance, slowly and steadily. Incremental change requires a constant assessment and reassessment of the strengths and weaknesses of both inner and outer environs paired with the willingness to adapt as necessary.

We cannot always “fix” things. Sometimes time itself just has to work problems out in its own unfolding progression. But problems cannot be ran away from either. Avoidance eventually results in and prolongs pain. Pick the right time to act. Don’t be the aggressive cat or the passive mouse.  With composure, stability, poise and self-control; use your instinct, reasoning and intuition to affect your own kaleidoscope of change.

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