Change scares people. Anything new and unknown makes us a little nervous- maybe a little excited, but also a bit unsure. But change is part of the nature of life- every day, you have a choice to move forward or remain the same. You can keep on doing what you’ve been doing, but if that hasn’t yielded the results you want, why would you keep doing it, time and again?
People tend not to embrace change until the status quo gets so painful and so dysfunctional that the pain involved with change is less than that of the status quo. This means people tend to wait far longer than necessary to reverse course, to get a new plan or strategy- we get wedded to our old habits and ways, and refuse to admit we’ve made mistakes.
Let’s take the story of my step-father’s printing supply business. In its heyday, it did well. But as desk top publishing started to come into its own, as Kinko’s came into the marketplace, less offset printing was needed in any community. The business started to get less busy, and there were printers who simply couldn’t pay their bills anymore, sticking the company with a long list of receivables. But instead of seeing this as handwriting on the wall, that the brothers should change or evolve their business to the changing market, they chose to hold on. Eventually, the business went under, and almost took everyone else with it.
There were many points- each and every day, in fact, between the day the business started losing money and when it went under, where the owners could have changed their minds about how they were doing business. But they kept on doing what they always did, hoping that the changes coming down the road would simply go away, and as a result, these ostriches got run over by a truck carrying the future.
Once you decide to embrace change, however, things can get better quickly. In August, I began to work out with a great trainer, Cathy MacDougall. This has worked for me better than any other time I’ve attempted the fitness/weight loss routine, because she asks me to make small changes, one or two at a time, and see how that goes, before adding other changes along the way. As I look back on the progress I’ve made so far, I’m proud of the distance covered, but also secretly mad at myself for not embracing these changes sooner, for wasting so much time. But like so many others, I waited until the current situation got to the point I could no longer ignore it, until all the tumblers were in place, and I could embrace change and commit to it, once and for all.
Making change happens when we’re ready for it, when we can not only hear the messages we know to be true, but when we’re ready to act on them, rather than just parrot their virtues. I can only hope that in other areas of my life, I have the courage to make the change sooner, rather than making change the last resort option.
It takes a lot of personal strength to change your position, change your mind, change your actions. But I admire people who are willing to make mistakes, to be wrong, to try something new more than people who are clearly afraid to do these things. Because in the end, fear has done more o hold me back from success than anything else in my life,. Giving up fear, which has largely been all in my head, has led to more success and positive things than almost anything else.
The trick is to recognize fear head on, and be willing to look it in the eye. This isn’t always easy, but I promise you, it’s almost always worth it.