“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” – Heraclitus
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
For some of you, the above quotes were inspirational, challenging (maybe), or reassuring. But for others it sounds like a bad poster or “Charlie Brown’s teacher” in your head. I get it – it seems that many have raised the banner of change to push through a stupid idea or, worse, to use it to justify a negative action toward you. So, to think that another Joe Schmoe is going to write an article telling everyone how important it is to change just infuriates you and makes you want to run away from this blog. Well, I hope you don’t. I hope that you realize that you are in charge of you. I also understand that everyone has a different adoption speed. There are people who are bleeding edge, changing *before* the winds of change start to blow all the way to folks who will never change. These posts, maybe misleadingly labeled, assume that the reader is ready to change and provides a few thoughts on how to adapt.
So let’s start with the first, very short point.
“Fear is a liar”
It is “human nature” (more about this in my more personal posts later) to fear. Fear tells us that something could happen, whether just around the corner or down the road, that would negatively impact you or someone close to you. It tries to tell you that the worse case scenario is imminent. It constantly reassures you that things are worse ahead, times are tougher, and you (above all) are unable to confront. Fear, however, is not a light switch. It doesn’t just flip on one day. It starts with hesitancy, with uncertainty, and then slowly turns on the survival instinct in all of us like that dimmer in your dining room. When survival kicks in, you start to get itchy – you start to think that the worse thing that could happen is just around the corner.
The Antidote to Fear
“That’s great, Josh. Thank you for pointing out what’s wrong – ANYONE could have done that” you might say. And you are right. It doesn’t take a genius to understand fear, it takes a someone with vision to find a way out. It takes someone with retrospect to remember the good things that have happened and build yourself up to the point where fear is displaced with confidence (or faith). Just like fear, it doesn’t flip on like a light bulb, it incrementally increases as you replace aspects of fear with a remembering knowledge of positive past actions. Do you remember when someone gave you a raise when you didn’t deserve or expect it? What about when someone said a kind word about you or to you? Or simply, do you remember how you woke up this morning and had a cup of coffee? All of these “understandings” can lead to reducing fear.
Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by EVERY EXPERIENCE in which you stop to look fear in the face. . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” For some, this simply means looking at the positive side of a situation and not the negative. As you progress, it means tackling that change that previously would have paralyzed you in your tracks. It is all about incremental change. It is about a positive way to become an agent of change.
I’d like to challenge you to something today:
- Remember or find one positive situation from your past (recent or distant).
- Over the next week, take a few minutes to think about the situation/scenario in which that happened.
- Use that positive situation as a daily reminder of how that situation improved you.
- Take cues from that situation, create a “statement” like, “Even when I didn’t deserve it, something good happened to me.”
- Commit this to a current fear point and see how it can help reduce the fear.
Now, I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist or any other kind of ologist, just a guy who has had to learn to push fear away to get stuff done. The above is not a prescription but some guidelines to self-improvement. I hope it helps!