A critical question many of you address through social media or other channel is: why do we hate change so much? Why do we have so much fear and adverse reaction to change, be it introducing something new to our company or in personal life? Why the typical response is resistance and what do we do about it? Such resistance can even lead us thinking whether is something wrong with ourselves. The answer to that is simple – there is nothing wrong with us.
Previously, we have discussed reinvention being natural to us, particularly as children. However, as we grow older, we are educated out of seeing change as normal. Thus reinvention it is no longer part of everyday life. Very early on, at five, six, or seven, we are taught about change as something stressful, dangerous, something abnormal. As we grow up, change is all around us – our bodies are changing, our abilities are getting different – we notice we have hands, we learn how to walk, trying the new foods, so on and so forth.
As we hit school, and as we are prepared for this stable world of the past because schools were designed for old systems, those of the old world that came with very predictable future, teaching us to rather forget about change and start fearing it quite aggressively.
You probably remember a moment in which you are sitting at your table in your classroom, and you are trying to do something new, and you are instantly said not to distract the class. If you are noticing new ideas, you are raising your hand, however, had you asked too many questions, then you were probably seen as the class disruptor.
Now, if you think about fear of change and change being a danger, note down the two ways we react to danger. Remember your biology course? Biology 101 or biology sixth or seventh grade? What are the two reactions we have to any kind of danger? You would be damn right to say – FIGHT OR FLIGHT.
What does that mean? Think of yourself as a historical men or woman, ten, twenty or thirty thousand years ago, walking through the woods or the terrain of the mountains in the proximity you are right now. Twenty thousand years ago, a change would be perceived as a danger – a rapid sound, or some rapid movement, perhaps a signal of a hungry animal. That’s change. Our body has only two options – fight or flight. Fight, meaning we run into the face of danger, hitting or killing it. Or flight – we run away from it, presuming it is too big.
However, none of these two reactions are too great or too excited about change. Biologically, we seem to lack a capability to welcome danger with an open heart. Our normal healthy response to danger, or to change perceived as a danger is fight or flight – to hate it. And of course, in business, we can fight back, but we can also easily fly away.
How might that look? Perhaps sitting in a meeting, noticing something dangerous, and we fly away – start making the shopping lists, begin recalling some situations of the past, or preparing plans for the upcoming weekend. We simply check out. That’s our flight reaction.
If your employees or you personally experience the fear of change – congratulations! That means you are healthy, you are normal, and you have all the natural “syndromes.” What is the bad news, if you are the person pushing forward the reinvention, whether that be a reinvention of your life or company or else – the change you consider going through, is put in negative context.
The good news – this adverse reaction, this rush of emotions, increased blood pressure, body temperature, the blood rushing through your arms and hands, as if you were to kill the animal or run away from it, this kind of negative reaction takes only about 90 seconds to go over.
From that moment, those hormones, cortisol, adrenaline – they hit your bloodstream. To the moment it is all flushed through your system, that takes only about 90 seconds, that’s all. You might have not any choice about the first 90 seconds, but after these are through, you have a choice – you can decide to take the negative fear and disruption and turn it as a new opening and a new possibility, the new exciting opportunity of your life. That is entirely up to you. If the first 90 seconds are not your choice, what happens afterward, it is your choice.
What do we do with that choice? Some people stay in those 90 seconds forever. They start a new cycle and a new cycle in their life and their mind. There are also countries who also remain in those 90 seconds for the next 90 years if not 900, and they get a choice to get stuck in that negativity and fear-based reaction.
However, you don’t have to be stuck. You need to give yourself permission to experience those 90 seconds to the fullest, not suppress them, not to pretend they are not there. You are running a disruption meeting, change meeting, you are producing a big new program, a big change is about to come in your company, among your employees. Give your fellows and subordinates the chance to be very angry for 90 seconds, because that is normal, it is healthy – it will mean you have normal healthy colleagues. Once the 90 seconds are over, it is the timing you invite yourself over and your colleagues to choose something else.
In a nutshell: being afraid of change – normal. Being stuck in that fear – that’s a choice, and most likely not the best reaction to the disruptions that are coming to us, ever more often, ever more strongly.
Hopefully, this introduces a different twist for you, and, of course, we would love to hear from you how you experience change. Are you on the side of hate or excitement?
P.S. In case you missed our previous blog+video, where we speak why you should never apologize for the unique things that your work brings to the world, make sure to check out here and comment.