The Status Quo of Stasis…

Mitch Schneider
May 13, 2022

I was having a friendly discussion with another patient in a clinic waiting room at the City of Hope not long ago. Friendly discussions are not uncommon in common areas like a clinic waiting room.

It makes sense. If you’re hanging out in one of those waiting areas, you know you have at least one thing in common with everyone else there. Catastrophic illness.

Waiting is something we can all relate to. Filling that time talking to someone who may be a step or two ahead of you on your journey seems more productive than just about anything else you could be doing. In fact, there are times I’ve learned as much from patients in a clinic waiting room as I have from some of the medical professionals involved in my care. What makes that possible is the uniquely singular —and, personal. Catastrophic illness.

Two terms that often come up in many of these conversations are status quo and stasis. I’ve seen them used interchangeably, and as a result, incorrectly. I see stasis as a kind of equilibrium. A condition where opposing forces are equal — balanced — resulting in no appreciative movement in one direction or another. Status quo is different. It literally means the existing state of things. Especially when those existing things remain unchanged (Perhaps because they are in stasis?).

I’ve experienced both. Periods of relative stability where the status quo doesn’t change much. Periods of stasis where internal or external stresses appear balanced. At least, for a little while.

From the Outside In…

Looking in from the outside status quo and stasis may look the same. Especially, when there isn’t much happening. But they are different, and the difference can have profound implications.

If you are in stasis, especially regarding your health. Opposing forces tend to be equal. If that’s the case, the status quo — the existing state of things — will reflect that lack of change. But that status quo could just as easily reflect constant and dramatic change — the antithesis of stasis.

The same holds true for life and business where stasis can result in stagnation. Where equality in opposing forces is not necessarily desirable and forward movement is required for growth and ultimately for success. And movement in the wrong direction —backward — can mean disaster.

Stasis may be desirable when things are going well. When you have finally achieved a goal or an objective, or when rest and regeneration are required. But that kind of status quo — that lack of movement and forward progress — will never provide the satisfaction and success we seek. Satisfaction and success are often accompanied by disruption and a fair measure of discomfort when the status quo is shattered and driven out of stasis.

In medicine Eastern medicine, they call that a healing crisis. In life and business, let’s hope we can refer to it as progress.


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