Paul Butler | Change is the only constant

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile

A little while back, we took a family trip to Yosemite. My in-laws were visiting from England, and they’d never seen the natural wonders of the giant, ancient sequoia trees, or the iconic vista of the towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. 

I noticed they moved a lot slower than yesteryear. Just as they’ve aged, so have we. Henry, our son, was a senior in college and was able to join us on the trip. Much had changed between us: He’d gotten taller, and I could no longer beat him in a race across the meadows. He was now a man, no longer a boy. 

During that trip, I remember thinking about how much technology had changed across those wonder years of traveling all over this beautiful land. On this jaunt, we used Airbnb, Turo and Google Maps — all three of which were not around when we first moved here, looking for America. 

Technology can be a wonderful disrupter that keeps businesses on their toes to ensure products and services are at our fingertips. 

Airbnb, for the uninitiated, is an online booking system that allows you to stay in someone else’s home, and it has put a significant dent in the lodging market. It’s not for everyone, but for us, we were able to stay in a luxurious log cabin for one-quarter of the price of one of those characterless brands with a swirling cartouche. 

We also used Turo, which for those who are unfamiliar, is an online platform that enables you to hire someone else’s car rather than using a traditional rental car company. By doing so, we dodged all the added fees and surly service often dished out by the person in the uniform who looks like they just don’t care, even though they often wear a branded badge that sarcastically seems to ask, “How Can I Help?” 

I don’t know what we’d have done without Google Maps that weekend. Henry taught me that if we tag the route on the phone while on Wi-Fi, the software will keep us on track, even when we see those two words that give us all palpitations: “No Service.” 

What did we do before Google Maps? Remember the Thomas Guide? Did you know you can still buy a Thomas Guide digitally? The only challenge is it’s on something called a CD-ROM (remember those?) and it’s only available on Microsoft Windows. Let me know if you regularly use the CD-ROM version of the Thomas Guide on your Microsoft computer, and I’ll send you an expired gift card for Sears. 

Organizations must change and adapt to serve ever-evolving customer needs, and in my mind, these three — Airbnb, Turo and Google Maps — have done just that. 

At the Yosemite visitor center, we were intrigued to peek at some black and white photographs of yesteryear. The exhibit was titled: “People change — Yosemite remains.” It was quite haunting to see people from the late 1800s dressed very differently from us, and yet standing at God’s creation we ourselves had stood at just moments earlier. Yes, people have changed, but Yosemite remains — majestic, awe-inspiring, and breathtakingly beautiful. 

These old monochrome images called out to me that although people come and go in the workplaces of the world and yes, technology will undoubtedly continue to change how we do our work — timeless, universal principles govern our interactions with people at work. 

Principles such as the “Golden Rule,” to treat our work colleagues in a way we ourselves would like to be treated. A principle such as “The Law of the Harvest,” that we reap what we sow at work. A principle such as “Servant Leadership,” proven to be the most revered form of management throughout the ages that yields true followership. 

Much has changed since that trip a few summers ago — Henry graduated from university and now lives in New York, and sadly, we’ve lost my father-in-law — and yet much remains the same.  

Just as seasons blow through the valley of Yosemite, technology will continue to sweep through the corridors of the workplace. But the more things change, the more they stay the same: Yosemite remains, and principles between people still govern. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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