Today I was pointed in the direction of an article in Fast Company by Alan Deutschman called “Change or Die.”

It stuck a chord with me right away because I’ve been working on a piece about doing something great and one of the biggest barriers to getting something great done is fear of change. In my line of work I’m forced to change constantly and yet still I’m fearful and uncomfortable at times with change. At other times I feel I’m one of the lucky people who can embrace it and even force it.

Not everyone, as this great article points out, is like that. Fear of change can be a huge barrier to getting what you want out of life. This article is a wonderful resource and has some interesting thoughts on life, change, lifelong learning and more.

A few excerpts:

h3. Lifelong Learning

As a big proponent of lifelong learning I really enjoyed this and think the fifth-day strategy is great:

…leaders of a company need “a business strategy for continuous mental rejuvenation and new learning,” he says. Posit Science has a “fifth-day strategy,” meaning that everyone spends one day a week working in a different discipline. Software engineers try their hand at marketing. Designers get involved in business functions. “Everyone needs a new project instead of always being in a bin,” Merzenich says. “A fifth-day strategy doesn’t sacrifice your core ability but keeps you rejuvenated. In a company, you have to worry about rejuvenation at every level. So ideally you deliberately construct new challenges. For every individual, you need complex new learning. Innovation comes about when people are enabled to use their full brains and intelligence instead of being put in boxes and controlled.”

What happens if you don’t work at mental rejuvenation? Merzenich says that people who live to 85 have a 50-50 chance of being senile. While the issue for heart patients is “change or die,” the issue for everyone is “change or lose your mind.” Mastering the ability to change isn’t just a crucial strategy for business. It’s a necessity for health. And it’s possibly the one thing that’s most worth learning.

h3. Accentuate The Positive

Another bit, on framing change, I found especially inspiring:

The patients lived the way they did as a day-to-day strategy for coping with their emotional troubles. “Telling people who are lonely and depressed that they’re going to live longer if they quit smoking or change their diet and lifestyle is not that motivating,” Ornish says. “Who wants to live longer when you’re in chronic emotional pain?”

So instead of trying to motivate them with the “fear of dying,” Ornish reframes the issue. He inspires a new vision of the “joy of living” — convincing them they can feel better, not just live longer. That means enjoying the things that make daily life pleasurable, like making love or even taking long walks without the pain caused by their disease. “Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear,” he says.

I love the idea that change can be spun in a positive way. I think some of the best things in life come from change and yet we often see change as something negative or too challenging.

Those that can embrace change are those that will do great things. The good news is, I think you can learn how to embrace change and it’s something anyone can do. Just as I feel anyone can do something great. More on that later. ;)

3 Comments on On Change

  1. Geoff says:

    How, then, to overcome these factors? … Unless you work on it, brain fitness often begins declining at around age 30 for men, a bit later for women. “People mistake being active for continuous learning,” Merzenich says. “The machinery is only activated by learning. People think they’re leading an interesting life when they haven’t learned anything in 20 or 30 years. My suggestion is learn Spanish or the oboe.

    This is a pretty great piece of advice. A very interesting article as well.

  2. Most people do fear change. I actually wrote a couple of Blogs about it a couple of months ago.

    Those came about from having moved to a new location, and having to adapt to new routines and ways of working in the new space. I had also recently found out that a friends home had burned down completely, and that she and her family were having to rebuild from scratch.

    Change isn’t easy, but if we face our fears head on, we have incredible opportunities for growth. “That which does not kill you makes you stronger” is very true, as is the fact that we don’t value things that are easily acquired; we tend to value things that we really have to work hard for.

    Take care!

  3. monkey dancing shadow says:

    Around a 2 years ago, when i was panicking about some important public speaking to a room full of an unkown audience, it was explained to me by a kindly mentor that the physical effects of fear and excitement are one and the same. It’s how we choose to interpret the physical feeling that makes all the difference.

    Since that eureka moment, it’s been relatively easy to mentally “reframe” (such a great NLP metaphor) my fear into excitement when any change or new experience is imminent, and i am definitely not the insecure little boy i once was because of it.

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