Business is bad at the moment! I need to do something differently!

Sound familiar?

All of us are resistant to change. We are programmed to not “rock the boat” unless we really have to. Which means until we are really dissatisfied with our current circumstances, we won’t try something new! This is why you see so many people who seem to be stuck in a job or business that they are not enjoying and isn’t giving them what they want.

However, we will change if we have a strong enough idea of where we want to go! A strong vision of the future and what our perfect job or thriving business would be.

To change, both elements need to come together. Our dissatisfaction with where we are now, and our vision of a brighter future combined become much stronger than our resistance to making the change!  The resistance to change does however reduce dramatically once you have taken the first step, whether that is applying for a new job, registering the new company or investing in a new on-line platform.

So why are we so resistant to change?

It is once again to do with evolution! In order to survive we have evolved to be sensitive to change in our environment as it could signal danger, which we label as Fear. Our emotional responses are all about survival in a world where being eaten by wild animals or attacked by another tribe was a real threat. FEAR is largely learnt through a combination of experience or by what has been communicated to us. One bad experience meeting a dog when we are young may make us nervous of dogs for life, which logically we know makes no sense as millions of people interact with dogs without harm daily, in fact usually with positive emotional benefits.

So, the answer to overcoming a fear is to apply logic!

This is possibly easier said than done!

I love to be in the countryside, either walking or cycling. One of my favourite walks is over the hills surrounding Oakham where I live. A walk I hardly did last year! Why? It passes through a field of bullocks.

I still think it is advisable to be wary of a herd of animals that are substantially larger than me, however people were regularly walking through the field without harm. This year I decided I had to “Just Get Over my Fear” so I bravely opened the gate and started to walk across the field. The bullocks seemed quite interested in my dog and followed us across the field maintaining a fairly constant distance of 2 meters behind us, this was not how I imagined this was going to be! When we stopped, they stopped! If I turned around and walked towards them, they all retreated. No harm came to me. Since then, I have walked across that field numerous times. I even walked through the herd to get to a gate a couple of times and yet, as I originally feared haven’t been trampled and I am here to write this blog. The most important thing, I enjoy the feeling of getting over my fear because the other side of it (walking through the field) has brought me satisfaction and joy.

FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real!

To be clear, some fears we should pay attention too – they are there to protect us! My point is that we should look at each fear and decide if it is really valid.

Ask yourself, why do you want to overcome your fear?  Do you have a strong enough reason to change, to move on?

Break the fear down into smaller steps

I am scared of heights yet I had always wanted to do a parachute jump; not mutually compatible!

A few years ago, my wife Angela signed herself up to do a tandem parachute jump (that is where you are strapped to an instructor).  The day before she was due to jump, I decided now was my chance to do a parachute jump too. I just had to get over my Fear! I signed up to do the parachute jump as well.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night, lying awake worrying about whether I would die. Feeling sad that I may not see my children again, and how much it would impact my family if I didn’t go home. My mind had busily identified numerous things that could go wrong.  About 4am, I realised that my best chance of survival was to be strapped to an instructor who had done 20,000 jumps and survived, this solution addressed most of my fears. I now had a plan and fell asleep.

On the day of the parachute jump, after meeting my instructor and being kitted out in what was a rather fetching red jump suit, we walked to the plane. Before we boarded, the instructor made sure we were securely connected together and double and triple checked! We then shuffled awkwardly, joined together into the light aircraft. The first part of my plan was successfully completed, and with little effort on my part.

I then had to face all the little fears I had identified the previous night one by one;

Fear 1 – I had never had a flight on a light aircraft before and it looked very flimsy, would we crash during take-off? That went well and the flight was absolutely fantastic with stunning views out over the sea and surrounding mountains.

Fear 2 – when they opened the door to the plane would I die of fright! Just pass out and never recover! They opened the door, and I was sitting on the ledge 30 cm from a 13,000-foot drop (sorry to mix up the units of measurement!). I didn’t die on the spot, and it was more fascinating than scary; especially watching the other jumpers leave the plane and the camera man climb along the outside, ready to be in the best position to video us.

Fear 3 – similar to fear 2 except when you leave the plane the instructor sits on the doorway and I was left dangling 13,000 feet above the ground! I lived and actually didn’t even register I had done it!

I missed a fear here, in all my worrying I hadn’t even thought about having to actually jump! Which is a bit disorientation as you fall away from the plane but you level out very quickly. We were then is free fall for around 9,000 feet which is a most exhilarating experience, and I can see why people become addicted to parachuting!

Fear 4 – will the parachute open! Yes, it did and we drifted down gently with the instructor pointing out local land marks (well 50 miles away) on a beautiful clear day.

Fear 5 – would I break my legs or worse on landing! No, we just drifted in gently and landed with hardly a bump!

You will have realised by now, that all of my fears made no logical sense. It was simply my emotions taking control. If I had not been so frustrated with preventing myself from doing something I had wanted to do for years, I would never have made that first step. I would have missed one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life!  The same applies in business. Many business owners have irrational fears preventing them from achieving what they really want to do, those that face their fears and take the leap, tend to be the businesses that do well.

Keep your fear in perspective

In our everyday lives, this same principle applies to change. Break down the change into smaller, manageable chunks. You will still feel fear, but this time it’ll be in smaller, more manageable portions.

Finally, remember there will always be a story of something that has gone horribly wrong for someone else (which is what everyone remembers and keeps the news outlets in business) but just keep that in perspective. Ask yourself; realistically, how likely is that to happen to you? Do your research and for each step work out what your justification is, as well as your fall-back position if something does not work.

This is my view of change and fear. What are your thoughts? Please type them in the message box, I’d love to hear especially from those of you who are far more qualified in this area than I am!