Sunday, January 19, 2020

Overcoming Fear of Change

"I have accepted fear as a part of life - specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back." - Erica Jong

We are in the midst of disruptive times. Some might say that this has always been the case, and that is true. What's different now is how fast things are changing, and this is especially the case when it comes to technology. The onset of a new decade brings great anticipation of new ideas and innovations that can improve our quality of life and what we do professionally. Exponential change is now a constant whether we like it or not. It compels us to think about how we do what we do and the impact of our work. 

Change is hard. Actually, it is really hard, especially at the system level. For a variety of reasons, people fear change. More often than not, this has to do with anxiety related to failure, being comfortable where we are at, or succumbing to TTWWADI (That's the way we've always done it). Gustavo Razzetti identifies in more general terms what we are all afraid of:

  • Fear of the uncertain
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being ridiculed
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of inadequacy
  • Fear of extra work
  • Fear of being happy 

It is natural to be afraid of going down a different path or implementing something new. If anyone tells you differently, then he or she doesn't know anything about real change. What matters is the choice you make when fear begins to influence your actions (or lack thereof). I always refer back to a powerful quote by Zig Ziglar. When facing fear, will you forget everything and run or face everything and rise? 

Ziglar is right when he says the choice is yours. If we let our fears influence what we do leading to inaction, then it is near impossible to get better. It can also lead to resistance. In many cases, this spells doom for culture as whatever we are resisting remains in existence to a certain extent. Instead of resisting change because we are afraid, it's time to embrace a different mindset. Lucia Giovannini outlines seven practical ways to do this:
If we really want to live a life that reflects the best of our possibilities, then we have to be open to change and to welcome it as a natural part of our evolution. Here are 7 steps you can use to overcome fear of change:
  1. Life is change and change means life. ...
  2. Accept the situation, but don't resign yourself to it! ...
  3. See failure as something positive. ...
  4. Celebrate every little success. ...
  5. Be responsible. ...
  6. Be patient. ...
  7. Step outside your comfort zone.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain." Change in the context of continual improvement is a good thing. Don't let your fear inhibit both personal and collective progress. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so timely. There is comfort in reading this piece - it puts in words all the feelings we are having...thank you.