Scared of Change? (My Eye-Opening Experience At Work)
You may have heard of the quotation, "Nothing endures but change."
It's from an old Greek dude named Heraclitus, and it's one of my favorite sayings.
But knowing that change is always present in our lives doesn't mean it's any easier to deal with.
Still, there are a few very important things to remember.
And a recent experience forced me to relearn them.
Realizing I Needed to Change
I've been working at my current job for about 13 months now, and things have been going well.
I'm now in a top management role as chief operating officer, but that doesn't mean I know everything.
If anything, I have to be more adaptable than ever so that I can meet all my staff where they are--and do so on a daily basis.
About two months ago, I got news that I needed to change.
During our quarterly meeting as a management team, we completed an exercise intended to provide everyone with positive feedback and, wait for it, something that we all needed to change.
The fateful moment had arrived, the time when you know you need to hear something and be open to it--but also a time when your body wants to recoil and get to the closest hiding space.
This is what the two other people on the management team said.
They told me that, when I have big ideas that I'm really excited about, ideas that I'd like to implement in the business, I tend to zoom miles ahead of others and move into implementation phase before I've fully explained what's going on in my head.
They told me that I had proven myself with my ideas--but that I needed to slow down and explain to the rest of the team what I meant so that I could get buy-in from them.
It wasn't that I was trying to force my will on others, they told me, it was that I didn't even take the time to see how others could help in the early stages of the idea's implementation.
Because, even as a person who considers himself pretty self-aware, this was a blind spot for me.
I thought I had explained my ideas and received buy-in.
But here were two people I trusted with clear evidence that I could be doing a lot better.
I knew what I needed to do, but I was still scared to change. I was scared of change itself.
Because what I had been doing was working for me.
Still, that didn't matter.
Because I had clear and compassionate feedback that I needed to meet my team where they are.
It was time to change.
"I'm scared of change."
If you're a human being like me, you've been in this situation before.
You are confronted with the reality that you need to change.
And looming over that reality is fear, the grim reminder that change is not easy, that it can, in fact, be quite scary.
Change may be everpresent in our lives, but it's the realization of the need to change that is jarring.
Little changes happen all the time, and we hardly notice them, but it's the big changes that surprise us.
When face to face with a difficult task from the universe, the natural instinct is to retreat.
After all, our ancestors, and our ancestral brains, are built on a foundation of pattern-matching.
The more sense we can make of our surroundings, the more predictable and safe the world becomes.
But change we must, and change we will.
A few tips to remember if you're faced with changes big or small
- You have dealt with change before, but your brain has likely blended it into the background of your life. You can commit to a big change and make it through again.
- Change is not inherently scary--it's our reaction to the need to change that is so frightening.
- You don't have to change all at once. You can break the change process into little pieces and tackle them one at a time.
- Don't prejudge change. What I mean is this: you have no idea what will come of the change. Maybe it will be the best change of your life. The brain your ancestors gave you wants you to be scared of anything new and different, but it doesn't have to be that way.
- The only way to change is by taking new action. The only way to uncover a new and better reality for yourself is by taking new and better action. Never forget that.
I struggle with this as much as you do.
That's the enigma of the change process.
Just when I think I'm done, that I'm a highly evolved human being who has it all figured out, I'm confronted with the need to change.
Because the need to change will always be there.
But how you respond to that need?
That's something that's within your control.