Do you know someone who’s always going through some kind of massive change?
Those people appear to thrive on uncertainty; they don’t mind feeling insecure or the disruption that change can bring.
On the other end of the spectrum are people who aren’t interested in changing because they’re content with their current situation.
Even people who are overweight or unhealthy are not likely to change their habits if they are satisfied with their lives. Often it takes a health scare before they feel forced to change.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us are somewhere in the middle: resistant to change but willing to try something different when we need to.
Changing our patterns and adjusting our behaviours takes us out of our comfort zone. It can be really hard to accept change if it affects an idea, position or practice that we’ve held on to for years.
Even though we may not be satisfied, we have confidence in the way things are.
Fear is an innate response to serious physical and emotional danger. Past experiences can trigger a fear response, even though there is no life-or-death threat.
For many of us, fear makes us avoid things for no good reason. This prevents us from making changes and achieving success in life.
Facing our fears is the best way to move past them.
The truth is that life is all about change. And fear is the single biggest obstacle to change.
I’ve coached business owners who came from impoverished backgrounds, had little formal education, but whose vision for success was so much greater than their resistance to change that they didn’t let fear get the best of them. Overcoming their fears empowered them to achieve their vision.
Then there are those that go through life virtually paralyzed because they’re afraid to try something new or different. Fear keeps them stuck, and they’re resistant to breaking out of the current cycle.
People in leadership roles often resist or fear change as much as followers do. This can pose a huge problem in this world of rapid transition and constant flux. As John Maxwell wrote in his book, Developing the Leader Within You, “Unchanged leaders equals unchanged organizations.”
FEAR really stands for False Expectations Appearing Real.
According to psychologist Dennis O’Grady, there is a combination of five fears that impact an individual’s ability to adapt to change: fear of the unknown; fear of failure; fear of commitment; fear of disapproval; and fear of success.
So what tips the scale to overcome our fear of change?
There is a simple formula to explain the change process. This formula applies to both individuals and businesses, and explains why some prosper and grow while others remain at the same or lower level of performance.
(D x V) + F > R, or Dissatisfaction times Vision plus First steps has got to be greater than Resistance to change.
Before a person can change, they must have a high level of dissatisfaction with their current situation. A clear vision, knowing that something new and different is possible, fuels these levels.
If a person’s dissatisfaction level is high but they don’t have a clear vision of what success looks like, or if they have a great vision but are fairly satisfied with the current situation, it is not likely that change will happen. A clear sense of both factors must be in play.
Once you can identify your issues and your vision of what the future could be, then you need to take the first steps. The fact is, without action, nothing will happen. And, all of these three factors must be greater than your resistance to, or fear of, change.
One of the first exercises my clients must undertake is to complete a business alignment questionnaire.
This process helps the business owner to identify the things he/she knows isn’t working. The things that need to change must be greater than their resistance to do what needs to be done in order the achieve success.
Try using this formula to help you understand and qualify your dissatisfaction level, and to build your vision for what you want to achieve.
Finally, plan the first steps to move towards your goals. You can truly become an agent of change in your life as well as the lives of others.
ActionCoach is written by John MacKenzie of ActionCoach, which helps small- to medium-sized businesses and other organizations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403-340-0880.