Many companies find that most change efforts fail due to employee resistance- and at the root of employee resistance is fear. We are all creatures of habit and we fear change. We fear the unknown.
To have courage is not to be fearless. It is to be fearful and proceed anyway. Courageous people embrace their fear without running from it, fighting it, or pretending it doesn’t exist.
One thing we all have in common no matter where we live in the world is a fear response. We all have amygdalae within the temporal lobes of our brain. We have one amygdala in each hemisphere. The amygdala is our alarm system that tells us that danger is near. It is this part of the brain that gets us aroused- wanting to run, fight, or freeze when we perceive a threat. Just thinking about change may activate our amygdala causing us to become resistant to anything new so that we can settle our brain back down.
In my book, The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life, I talk about pushing past the fear to move forward. I discuss how it relates to moving past mediocrity.
Take a look at an excerpt:
Moving Past Mediocrity
If your car had a dead battery and it was petrified of jumper cables, it would have two choices. It could embrace the fear and allow the cables to give it a jump, or it could refuse the jump and remain a motionless car. If it chooses to face its fears, it will move forward. If it chooses to avoid the jumper cables, it will go nowhere at all. You are not so different from your car. You will have to face some fears if you want to move forward in life.
Without the courage to face our fears, we stay stuck in a life of mediocrity. We must be willing to step outside our comfort zone if we want to experience life at its best. By settling for the status quo, we sell ourselves short. There is so much more to life than that. There is so much more to us than that. We need to do more than avoid the destructive boulder. Life is too good and too short to just settle for the status quo. Saying to ourselves, “Well, I am not self-destructing, so I guess I am doing all right,” just doesn’t cut it. Oh, no. We must keep going so we can experience the excellence that resides within us.
Moving past mediocrity and beyond the status quo involves change, and change is hard. Even healthy change that will improve our lives in magnificent ways is tough. Change is so difficult because we fear the unknown. We like things to be predictable. Many years ago, our fear of the unknown served our ancestors well. Being cautious and playing it safe probably kept them from getting eaten by some hungry animal. Knowing what might happen in their environment and acting accordingly helped them survive. But in today’s world it often holds us back from experiencing all life has to offer. We miss out on exciting opportunities or stay in miserable situations because we do not want to stray from our comfort zone. Our brain is hard-wired to keep us safe, but in today’s world we often fear the invisible wild animal. It is our fear that often holds us hostage, preventing us from making changes in our lives—changes that will get us to where we really want to go.
We actually fear things that may help us. We fear leaving a dead-end job because we do not know what a new job might bring. We are scared to leave a destructive relationship because life without it will be unpredictable. We fear opening ourselves up to another person because our disclosure may be met with rejection. We prefer to play it safe. However, this perceived safety comes at a huge price. The price is living a life of mediocrity, which is a life not fully lived. By playing it safe, we may miss out on a more fulfilling job or we may stay in a relationship that puts us in harm’s way. Because of our fear, we may never get to experience an authentic connection with another person that only true intimacy can bring. Yes, we may be running from the imaginary wild animal and avoiding the very things that can improve our lives all in the name of safety.
To find out more about moving past fear, living with vision, and taking baby steps to avoid becoming overwhelmed, check out The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life written by educator and licensed psychotherapist Kristin Barton Cuthriell, MEd. MSW, LCSW.