Winnie the Pooh on Change

Apr 17, 2013 No Comments by

English author A.A. Milne is best known as the creator of Winnie the Pooh.  Portrait-of-AA-Milne

Most of his tales of the Hundred Acre Wood involved characters such as Tigger, Eeyore and Christopher Robin, but some of the most memorable lines are exchanged between best friends Pooh and Piglet.


Milne’s writings may have been directed toward children, but they contain embedded insights of great value to adults as well.

Tao-of-PoohSome of my favorite Milne references involve being less impulsive and reflecting fondly on one’s friends and the comforts of life.


Milne’s works even became the subject of a popular book a few years ago called “The Tao of Pooh” which encouraged people to slow down and take a more introspective view of life and relationships.

Today I’ll share six quotes related to Milne’s work. 

Each quote has a message for Change Agents.  



I’ll start with my personal favorite from “The Tao of Pooh”:

Tao of Pooh Banner


“You can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”

This one is pretty self-explanatory. We each start the day with the exact same time resources. Even if half of our day is already defined for us before we wake up, as Change Agents we should always remember that how we spend our time is – and always will be – the collective result of the choices we’ve made based on our values and our priorities. winnie-the-pooh-honey

If my statement makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, please take a deep breathe, re-read it and try again.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

Early in my career, a boss introduced me to an old rule of thumb based on the number of holes in my head. He called it Cardinal Rule 2.2.1 and it goes like this: “You have five holes in your head and they are meant to be used in proportion. Spend 40% of your effort using your two ears to listen and another 40% using your two eyes to watch. Spend the other 20% opening your mouth to talk.”  

I encourage Change Agents to listen first, talk second and continuously watch for the telltale signs of stakeholders in need.


The Boss Is Mad“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”

As a Change Agent, I can almost guarantee that you will eventually bump into someone who doesn’t think highly of you. In fact, they might express outright disdain for you. Sometimes this is because you represent a change that is going to be difficult for them. Sometimes it’s just because of the way you look or speak. 

Rather than confronting the person or seeking to “defeat” them or “fix” them, try listening to their needs without absorbing the negative blow. This will not be easy, but it can be done and the payoff can be great.

I still remember the first time that I handled this type of situation well. Someone blasted me without mercy – mostly because I of what I represented. I calmly and respectfully allowed him to vent (in front of a large room full of people) and he eventually caved in to peer pressure and started contributing in a more productive way. It opened new doors of capability for me to be able to help people who genuinely disliked me.


“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”


Don’t shrink from your role as a Change Agent. You have more influence than you may realize and your knowledge of the overall situation gives you a unique perspective. Even if your natural inclination is to be more introverted than extroverted, you can still represent the change in a way that positively influences others.

 WinnieThePooh Book Cover

 “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

 “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”

Each person brings unique skills and experiences to the change process. Instead of trying to squeeze everyone into the same mold, Change Agents should consider leveraging different “champions” to reach different stakeholders and allowing stakeholders to adapt at their own pace (within reasonable limits). Listen to the experiences of others as they go through the change and share these potentially helpful ideas with others. Most of all, don’t try to “hammer” people through the change adoption process. Instead take the approach of providing them with the resources and time to adapt on their own where possible.


It turns out that Pooh Bear had some pretty sharp insight for a stuffed animal…


Question for Chatter:

  1. Which of Pooh’s ideas for Change Agents sound like they might work for you?


Orange Line


Change Agent Skills, Change Communication, Change Execution, Change Leadership, Stakeholder Readiness, Team Dynamics

About the author

I help people and teams succeed with big changes... never a dull moment!
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