Thursday, April 29, 2010


Psychology Today has penned a beautiful version of how we deal with change and more so how we deal with thinking about change. I have copied and footnoted two excerpts below because they capture the spirit of the article. To get the full impact, and the article is definitely worth reading in it's entirety, go to

In the excerpts below Carlin Flora outlines the two items that stop us in our tracks when we attempt to change. The first is our fear of failure and the second is how terrifying stepping out in new directions can actually be. My children as teens do not have these fears. It would be interesting to know the circumstances under which I acquired these fears although I suspect that they came about so gradually as not to be noticed.

"Overcome Your Fear of Failure

You could quit your banking job and open an antiques shop or move to Romania to live with your online love. But what if it doesn't work out? What will everyone say about you then? The fear of public humiliation can keep us safe, if not content. Simply ask, "What is the likelihood that the thing I fear will come true?" says Lubetkin. And then, "If it does come true, will it really be as bad as I think?" Our minds tend to cue the worst-case scenario, what psychologists call "awfulizing." But even shaky startups and broken hearts can be remedied.

Those who would judge you may not even notice your missteps. If they do, they would be smart to think your behaviors—and not you as a human being—are what failed. Temporary slips are crucial to eventual success, Leahy says. "When I was an undergraduate, a classmate of mine got a C on a paper in his economics course about an idea for an overnight mail service. Two years after college, he took that blueprint and started FedEx."

Embrace Risk and Novelty

Even if no one is watching you, lighting out for new, unmarked territories is terrifying. We overestimate dangers and risks, Lubetkin says, because oftentimes our parents—especially if they are overprotective—teach us that danger is to be avoided at all costs.

Pelusi sees a distal cause for skittishness in the face of change. "We impute a lot of power to the unknown, because it was life-threatening for much of human history," he says. "Putting that fear in its proper perspective can help. You are probably not going to fall down a ravine or get eaten by a lion if you move to the opposite coast."

At the same time, points out Pelusi, the human spirit wants to break out of habitual constraints. Studies confirm what many an entrepreneur or divorcee will tell you: We tend to regret the things we didn't try more than those we did—even when we fail.

Analyzing risk in the classic "Should I stay or should I go?" scenario can bring on headaches or even paralysis. Lubetkin recommends that you write down the pros and cons of each situation and then weight them numerically, according to how important they are to you. But then you must also factor in the more subjective "gut" feelings. Flip a coin in order to hypothetically decide your fate, then take note of how you react to the outcome. "

How succinct. I needed to capture that to reread in my times of discontent.

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