Lisa Hirst Carnes: Embracing Evolution and Change

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | October 2018




Earlier this year, ArcStone turned 21 years old. Woo-hoo, we’re legal! Over those twenty-one years, our identity, vision, and the work we do have evolved dramatically. Let’s face it, if we didn’t evolve, ArcStone would have been out of business long ago.

Early on, we identified core values — the values that drive us. We felt it was important to be able to clearly communicate our motivations and how we are guided to both clients and ourselves. I’d argue that our core value; evolution, resonates and guides us now more than ever before.

For me, my entire career path has been rooted in a willingness to learn and adapt. In fact, I first got started in digital marketing because I was curious and volunteered for the job. Learning new things excites me, so my career as a digital marketer and agency owner is a great fit.

As we are planning our Happy(our) event on evolution, I started thinking more about evolution and why people are opposed to change.

The definition of evolve is to develop, progress, or advance something we all do every day. If this is the case, why are people so uncomfortable with the idea of evolution?


I think it’s simple. Change and uncertainty, both integral to evolution, make people uncomfortable. Have you noticed that as a society we’re very concerned with making people comfortable 24/7? The notion of being uncomfortable rubs us the wrong way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m always comfortable with uncertainty. That’s definitely not the case, but I do realize that without it, growth slows, becomes dull and life may get stagnant.

Of course, change and evolution can be difficult and messy. Most times, it’s easier to stay on course and stick to what you know but c’mon, how much fun is that?

Like most things in life, evolution is a practice. It takes time and effort. In my own quest, I’ve identified a few essentials that are vital in the effort to embrace change.


Create Space

Like anything, creating a conducive environment helps get results. David, my husband, and partner at ArcStone has been saying this forever. “If you want to do something, you need to first create the space to do it.” That space may be physical. It may also be mental or emotional.

A little over a year ago, we threw a party celebrating our 20-year marker. The night before the party, we moved all the desks from the main floor to the mezzanine to make room for our guests. The party was a blast and we saw our space in a new light.

That weekend, we decided that we wanted to start throwing events regularly. Instead of moving the desks back, we bought and installed a big table that had been a bowling lane in another life. We wanted to create a place that would serve as a gathering place and the bowling lane table worked wonderfully. Creating space allows us to evolve and as a result of that creation of space, hosting events has become an important part of our culture.


Trust your anchor

It’s easier to embrace change and ambiguity if you have an anchor. Last month, David and I celebrated our 25th anniversary and we’ve owned a business together for over 21 years now. Like many of you, my family is my rock. I’m comfortable with change and evolution in some parts of my life because I have stability in other parts of my life. In other words, It’s easier to experience ambiguity because I have an anchor keeping me steady.

It’s tough to have multiple things in flux. For me, it’s best to focus on evolving or changing one aspect of my life and not everything at once.


Disconnect with The “Worst Case Scenario”

Embracing the unknown becomes easier when you recognize the times when you went out on a limb and the outcome was positive.

A few years ago, you couldn’t enter a gift shop or bookstore without encountering “Worst Case Scenario” books. The books warned us about the danger lurking around the corner. They were pretty funny.

Unfortunately, lots of people have this sort of “danger around the corner” mentality and a person with this mindset typically is risk-averse and doesn’t welcome change with open arms. Trusting your instincts and letting go of what might happen is liberating and freeing.


Take Time for Reflection

We live in a busy time. In fact, being busy is often seen as a badge of honor. Fortunately, I think we’re shifting away from this as a society. We are finally changing. Dare I say we are evolving? We are starting to see the dangers of always doing and never stopping, this obsession with business can keep us from feeling or recognizing other meaningful work.

Slowing down will open you up for new ideas, spark your creativity, and much more. I’ve had to make a concerted effort to unplug. It’s tough and doesn’t come naturally. Maybe it’s my protestant work ethic? There’s always something to be done. My job never is never “done” and like so many of you, with the flexibility that my career offers, comes that feeling of being tethered to a laptop or a cell phone.

I realize that time to simply be and not do helps me feel more comfortable with uncertainty and excited by the possibility of change.


See The Beauty

We all know optimists and pessimists. I live with an eternal optimist (and I have to say that it’s pretty amazing). Personally, I prefer seeing beauty rather than what’s wrong with things but I understand that the world needs all types. Our differences are beautiful.

Seeing beauty when we look at the world brings an openness and willingness to accept change and embrace evolution.



Topics: Who is ArcStone?, Digital, Happy(our)


What is the arc of your evolution?

Our panelists will discuss the challenges that come with the pressure to evolve and what the lessons they’ve learned along their paths. Find out how to embody change in your own career and artistic endeavors.