In today’s very competitive business environment, we hear so much about the need to adapt to change that it often falls on deaf ears. We’ve heard it all before and too many times to take seriously. However, this has been the case for centuries, and yet we never seem to learn. For example, let me share this communication from the Governor of New York, Martin Van Buren, (later to become our 8th President) as he warns current President Andrew Jackson of the pending danger of drastic change.
TO: President Andrew Jackson
FROM: Martin Van Buren, Governor, State of New York
DATE: January 31, 1829
The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation know as “railroads.” The federal government must preserve the canals for the following reasons:
- If the canal boats are supplanted by “railroads,” serious unemployment will result. Captains, cooks, drivers, hostlers, repairmen and lock tenders will be left without means of livelihood, not to mention the numerous farmers now employed in growing hay for the horses who pull the boats.
- Boat builders would suffer and towline, whip and harness makers would be left destitute.
- Canal boats are absolutely essential to the defense of the United States. In the event of the expected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could ever move the supplies so vital to waging modern war.
As you may well know, Mr. President, “railroad” carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by “engines” which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and children. The Almighty never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed!
Martin Van Buren
This same attitude is shared by many today as they deny continuous growth, technological advances and the need for unrelenting creativity and innovative application. Someday, future generations may very well look back on us and feel much as you just did in reading the above correspondence.
Keep an open mind and don’t let change happen to you. Play your role in accelerating that needed change.