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Why Is Change So Hard, I Speak From Experience?

By 09/03/2019Nov 23rd, 2021No Comments


Lets Talk Change

For those of you who have attended one of my talks you will recall me saying I got so stuck in my comfort zone that to bring about the change I needed and wanted, I “Hiroshima’d” my life. This inspired me to go on to study the Neuroscience behind change simultaneous to a Masters in Business Innovation which resulted in our tailored training programs enabling the transformation required for innovation and profit.


Going through the process of massive change myself equipped me with the insights I needed to not only understand what I was going through and transcend the process, though also to be able to enable and inspire others. So, let me start with explaining why change is uncomfortable, what change is and how you go about changing.


You know we are in the Exponential Age, you can see the change on the horizon coming and you know you need to learn adaptability now, which is simply the process of constant unlearning and re-learning. This is no light-hearted feat so please be kind on yourself, this requires immense strength of character and agility.

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Change is uncomfortable because we are neurologically wired for safety and this goes back to our more primal days. Anything outside of our comfort zone, anything new, triggers us neurologically to say there may be danger here. We call this our fright or flight mechanism though it occurs so naturally and subtly that we often aren’t even conscious that it has been triggered and can disregard an idea before carefully considering it. Another factor is that we knew back then that there was safety in numbers so we have a natural in built system that guides us to stay within societally accepted norms. This can often work against the new ways of thinking required for innovation.


So, what does change feel like, well simply put its not great as our first instinct is fear, followed by resistance and chaos as we grapple to accept the change and cultivate new strategies of thinking, acting and feeling.  This is when we rise above the previous old status quo into the new higher-level way of being. The below diagram, from insights obtained from Dr Clare Graves, illustrates this perfectly. Its important as a leader to understand this normal human process to ensure you have the insight and strength to endure it personally and professionally when you are driving change. Resistance and chaos are a natural part of the process before adaption.


How then do we better manage the process both for ourselves and our teams? Well I would recommend you do the opposite of what I did for sure. I resisted the change and that extended my painful period of chaos, what I should have done was accepted it and cultivated new ways of thinking, feeling and acting. This is natural evolution and one cannot avoid it, this process wont stop, so once you are familiar with it its important to recognise when another transition is on the horizon. Develop your muscle for change and teach yourself to flow with it. It makes the journey far more enjoyable as you evolve higher and higher and enables you to understand that there is nothing wrong with you or your team once you understand the neuroscience behind the process of change.


When lecturing we appreciate that when we receive new information we always start off at unconscious incompetence and then once we are conscious of our incompetence we are confused as this new information starts to integrate. This leads to conscious competence and then with enough time we become unconsciously competent.


So be kind on yourself and others as your and their models of the world change. What is foreign to our model of the world is NOT SAFE – it is a primitive human reaction to reject what is foreign. Confusion will always precede understanding, it’s just your model of the world adjusting and conscious unconscious integration of new information taking place. Understanding and supporting the process of change alone enables greater safety and that is what we are intrinsically wired for.


You can’t innovate from within your comfort zone, being uncomfortable is the key to your success and a sign that you are learning. Be conscious though of the ebb and flow of change, balance is paramount. Not too much change and not too little, just enough. Dr Clare Graves went on to further highlight the value levels a company and a person transitions through over time. This we will discuss in next week’s blog. ?


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