Make Change Work For You

Learn how to let go of fear and embrace change.

Growing up, our specific fears have probably saved us numerous of times from danger without us even knowing they did. For one, fear of heights might have prevented you from climbing that huge apple tree and saved yourself from injuries as a kid. Perhaps, your fear of snakes kept you from venturing close to them at a zoo and that saved you from death.

Yes, it is safe to conclude that our fears can often save us from life-long sufferings or death. It has been our weapon against something that could end up taking the life out of us—literally and figuratively.

However, you may have also noticed how fear has held you back all these years. Fear of heights kept you from the joy of flying or fear of spiders kept you from venturing vast forests that could have earned you awesome memories.

Now, when it comes to business where changes happen by the minute, we need to adapt by stepping out of our comfort zones. Sounds scary for some, but for a leader, it should be a challenge well-accepted. Let this article help you to conquer your fears by:

  • Learning how persistence is better than intelligence
  • Learning how paranoia can be an advantage

Don’t let emotions slow you down; solve your problems in a confident, rational way.

Emotions are not at all prohibited in the business of leadership, but submitting to these emotions when you need to be rational can be negative. For example, you are at an important meeting with a client who wants to cancel your contract. Would you save your pride and resign or panic and beg to not eliminate your contract?

What should a leader do? Neither. Stay on your ground, and think rationally. Do not let your emotions dictate your response. Instead, use the method of FEAR to figure your next step.

Focus, Engage, Asses, and React.

Focus on the situation first. This is the first step because without focus, there is no way you can be mentally present. And not being mentally present is a recipe for disaster when it comes to solving dilemmas. Do not take any actions yet without being completely focused.

Identify the problem’s impact on your business and leadership. Is it client-impacting or leadership-impacting? How immense would be the damage if not treated well enough?

Will the cost of going the extra mile for the client’s demands is less than the possible loss without the specific client? Will it better option to search for new clients instead? Is there any past experience relating to this and was it solved? If so, how did you find a solution?

Analyze the answers to these questions because those answers will determine your preparations before you can develop an action plan. Determine which tools you would need to fulfill your client’s demands and the resources you will need.

Then it is time to assess the outcomes. If you go for your client’s demands, would it be pleasing for the business? How would it reward your team? If not, what could be the outcomes and underlying troubles? Is it going to be customer-impacting? If the plan fails, do you have any contingency plan to make sure you won’t lose the customer?

FEAR helps you identify which questions to ask in order to weigh the opportunities versus the risks for you to determine which action to apply.

Courage is the willingness to take calculated risks in the face of fear and anxiety.

Courage, unlike what most think, is a skill than can be acquired over time. No one is born brave right away; rather, we take time to develop courage on a daily basis. And to finally abolish the idea of courage being without the presence of fear, it is actually the opposite. Courage is acknowledging fear without letting it holds you down.

To be courage, you must learn how to analyze the risk before you throw yourself into action. It is about being practical and realistic. As long as you know how to learn from your previous mistakes, you can recalibrate your moves to come up with better solution.

Take the Harvard Business’ Psychology Professor Martin Seligman’s review:

Douglas and Walter lost their jobs. Douglas takes courage and sees his predicament as a temporary roadblock. He analyzes his mistakes that caused him his job, and then he looks for a new job he can get. By doing so, he is able to come up with new opportunity not long after.

On the contrary, Walter gives in to his fear. He blames himself for losing his job and he does not want to take any risk.

Now, do not end up like Walter. Do not let fear takes advantage of your shortcomings and end up blocking you from future success. Do not allow fear use your temporary failures to keep you from glory.

Willpower is the force behind courage. But just like a muscle, the more you put it to exercise, the more you fortify it. You then develop endurance and persistence to tolerate risks until fear no longer holds you down.

If you want to put it into application, start looking for out new chances to succeed. Start small then go bigger. Get involved with projects that can develop your skills and capabilities. Then slowly but surely work your way out to bigger risks.

As long as you analyze the risks and you weigh your actions, take the risk when you spot an opportunity coming your way.

At their core, your fears are little more than opportunities for feedback.

As you may have discovered yourself, fear is a vicious and destructive force. It develops barriers that can cause serious damage to your goals. So, when you feel discomfort or anxiety over a decision or a practice, acknowledge it. Slow down and make sure to recognize your emotions as to why you feel such way. Analyze and asses your situation, because that is the moment that fear tries to block your mindfulness.

The moment that you acknowledge your fears, it stops having that stronghold on you, because you now know how to overcome it. So, the next time you experience getting worked up on an opportunity, too stressed about a presentation, or too anxious about speaking in front of audiences, acknowledge it and practice it. The more you realize what you fear of, the more you can work on it.

Do not be scared to ask for feedback or help. We all need help to improve and constructive criticisms are always helpful. This way, your fears subside and turn into learning tools. Never be ashamed of your learning curve because we all adapt and learn on our own pace, so take as much time for preparation as you need.

It is safe to say that fear does have a good side. It allows us to open ourselves up to our shortcomings and learn from them. We then can prepare ourselves for new and bigger risks that can lead us more to our success through creative thinking.

To cite an example, artists who work as freelance would often worry about their next paycheck. To help themselves out, they offer their audience what it needs to see to further open opportunities that can lead to their success. OK GO, a band that produces music, decided to run a record label, produce videos, and develop apps with this kind of goal in mind.

Instead of allowing fear to hold you down, approach it in a different way. Recognize it so it would lose its foothold on you, then you understand yourself as to why you feel fear towards a particular thing, that that is the time you address the problem.

Use anxiety to build a system of self-assessment in order to make better decisions.

Fear can often be disguised in other form of emotions or thinking such as paranoia. It is the suspicion of being outwit and outperformed by your competitors. And it is never a healthy approach on things, especially when you act based on such thinking.

Good news is just like any other forms of fear; you can also address paranoia the same way you conquer fear itself. First thing to do is to address it by assessing yourself and your situation. Ask yourself this question; is my competitor an actual threat? If yes, under what circumstances?

Analyze what would happen if there is a change in the economic situations? How would your business cope if new technological advances arise? What if a competitor suddenly cuts charges? How do these questions make you feel?

If you feel worried or uncomfortable about these happening and the approach you would end up doing, then start analyzing it more before you go create your back-up plans. It is okay to feel uncomfortable; feeling safe often gets you procrastinating and too complacent.

Think of Tony Hawk, a legendary skateboarder. He was well aware that his career could not last in the next coming years of his life. Thus, he came up with a way to make himself still significant and in demand. He developed his own clothing brand and sports apparel and equipment. He also started endorsing video game series. This way, he would remain visible and his place in the market would not stop even after his career ended.

Once you have already established your way into self-assessing yourself every so often, your mind will be developed for innovation. And when it does, you will have a goal to always remain one step ahead the competition. It will come naturally as you progress with self-assessment, because your mind will not let you settle for anything less.

Victorious businessmen used this way of thinking as a driving force to be where they are in the business food chain and still progress. They tend to evaluate their business dilemmas right away before the troubles get too unruly and they lose the chance to stop it from affecting the business.

For example, P&G knows that they are leading in the diaper manufacturing with its Pampers product, which means that rivals are following its lead while waiting for the opportunity to see P&G fail. And so, P&G constantly develops improvements like its leak-proof waist shields feature that storms the market.

Working constantly on your long-term goal includes taking well-evaluated risks.

Failure has always been imminent and part of our business ventures. This means that we will have to go through failures to success. It has become a useful tool to learn how to handle future projects in the business. But the most important thing is that you are willing to actually see your goals through.

Maintaining efforts and working on long-term goals require hard work and patience. A lot of things happen in the business world and it can be quite frustrating when things do not go well our way. Therefore, to achieve your goal, you must prepare a solid plan that involves every step you will ever need to get to your goals.

Develop persistence. It is important to have a level of self-control that will not allow you to give up on your goals. There can be a need to adapt every now and then, some stumbling block to work on instead of swerving from, and a few more adaptations to get to where you want to be. But with persistence, you will view all these as a stepping stone on which you build your bigger plans of conquering the market.

To back this thought up, take the psychologist, Angela Lee Duckworth’s six-month study about perseverance. She involved college undergrads, West Point cadets, working adults, and Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants to figure out the importance of persistence. And according to her studies, persistence and perseverance play a much bigger role in determining success than IQ or GPA.

However, be careful choosing the hurdles you take on. Having persistence and courage to take on the challenges set in front of your success is different with taking every single hurdle you recognize. Choose the healthy ones; those that will benefit you in the long run.

Avoid extending yourself too far beyond your limitations. Focus on the opportunities that are not too risky yet still very rewarding. Weigh potential losses and gains. This way, you will have an idea of which challenges will be worth taking and not too risky. At the end of the day, grit guided by enough knowledge is what your need to succeed.

Phil Gordon, a professional poker player and Jawfish Games owner, would not risk making an app available to the world without having two experts assess it and give the go to make it available in the market. Sure is costly, but he would rather spend than risk developing worthless apps.

Having grit does not mean not worrying about hurdles and challenges. On the contrary, it means facing these hurdles and challenges in order to make the right decisions.

Experimentation and improvisation are business necessities.

You may have been one of those businessmen who kept looking for the secret formula to success. You might be pleased to know that it exists. However, it does not happen overnight and most definitely does not work with just a snap of a finger. It is not a wishing well. The magical formula for success is as simple as trial and error. Try, learn, and try again. Look past anxieties and doubts until you finally have the success you have dreamt about.

First, you must acknowledge that failure and experimentation are entwined. Experimenting may not always mean that you will hit your goal right away. And just like in any tinkering and experimenting, failure can be a useful tool to develop the right product sooner or later. This is where trial and error occurs.

Recognize that your career and organization are both a constant work in progress. This means, you have to be flexible and must be able to handle change in such a way that will work on your favor.

This idea is the encouragement behind the companies releasing beta versions so the market can test them out and criticize them as part of feedback in order to come up with the best version ready to be sold worldwide. And this process does not only require the trial and error process but grit as well. Changes will be necessary here and there, and if you do not develop the will and capability to adapt, this process will dishearten you.

When a sudden hurdle presents itself, you must learn to make do and improvise. There is no need to be a genius, but you do have to be ingenious. Improvise over intelligence. Now that young professionals have been penetrating the market to become experts in the way of improvising, the business world is going through a generation flux. You must learn how to adapt and think outside the box with your improvisational talent.

Spotting opportunities and using them helps you to stay relevant.

Now that the market has grown even more dynamic, you must learn how to relevant. Unlike before, relevance has become a condition than a quality. The more you remain desirable to the customers, the more you stay relevant in the market. This requires a keen pair of eyes to possible opportunities coming your way.

Be constant in reinvention. This way, you are more likely to make the most out of these opportunities coming your way. To be an expert in reinvention, always be on the look-out for new skills and keep your finger on the pulse of market trends.

Taking evening classes for six months could very well be with the same weight of having PhD on your professional criteria because it shows off your ability and willingness to adapt to the changes coming your way. And this showcases your ability to keep up no matter how difficult the condition is. Not to mention, you will not be like those workers and managers whose skills and credentials became superseded because could not keep up with the modifications in the market trends.

Even companies need to constantly seek for advantageous opportunities to be on top. However, the larger the enterprise is, the more difficult it could be to adapt to changes. Still possible, but it requires dedication.

For example, the Walgreens had to deal with the growing competition in the drugstore chain business. With the large number of competition, the chain started losing customers. In order to still stand tall amidst all the challenges, Walgreens came up with a whole new concept of customer service. They developed a mobile application and pill reminder and one-stop shops to cater to consumers. It has a complete variety of drugstore products with new assortment of healthy food, manicure services, and etc.

Anything is possible with a little group effort of brainstorming meetings to help each other focus on the right path. This is most helpful when the company cannot go through huge changes right away. Small adjustments still make the cut. After all, despite not being entirely welcome, change is necessary for innovation and success.

Final Summary

They say if something is not broken, do not attempt to fix it. While true to some applications, it is definitely the opposite when it comes to business.

In the ever-so-changing times of our modernized business world, companies must be ready for innovations and opportunities. Constant changes that require grit are often the best kinds, and the more you are ready to take on these challenges with calculated risk, the higher your chances of succeeding.

Actionable advice:

Start asking yourself the tough questions you have been avoiding to face due to fear of change.

Instead of stressing out, start assessing the root of your negative emotions. Are you worried about being valuable at work? Assess yourself then. Do you take risks? Do you take opportunities being presented? How do you handle new projects that could better your position at work? How is your level of hunger for new learning? If you have positive and confident answers to these questions, then you have nothing to worry about.

Still, if the company you work for fail to see the advantage of having you, then it is time to assess taking a different risk. You can choose to risk to change for your betterment, or risk to be left behind.