You often hear it said that people are afraid of change (no one likes change but a wet baby!), but that’s not true. People love change – as it comes with a guarantee that it’s going to be a positive change.
To prove this to yourself, imagine a change that entails a zero being added to the dollar figure on your paycheck, no strings attached. Most people dream of such changes! This is, of course, a hypothetical example.
People are not afraid of change per se – what they are afraid of is the uncertainty that goes with change. That is why so many people never venture very far from their own little box.
Here are five strategies that will help you get out of whatever box you happen to be making your own mental home right now:
Strategy #1 – Embrace uncertainty: My Values Coach colleague Dick Schwab says that people must choose either the certainty of misery or the misery of uncertainty. Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of the book Worry, describes the anxiety-performance curve which demonstrates that – up to a point – anxiety can inspire positive performance but after that point, the impact can be seriously negative (recall your worst case of test anxiety).
You cannot make anxiety and fear go away (according to the late Dr. M. Scott Peck, the absence of fear is not courage, it’s brain damage. What you can do is make fear your ally by letting it prod you to take action toward your most important goals.
Strategy #2 – Create prototypes: There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done – if you think big and start small (with apologies to The Beatles). The best way to do that is by using prototype thinking to create models (mental and physical) that move you along the path.
If your goal is to write a book, a prototype could be a magazine article, or even a letter to the editor (anything that will earn you that first rejection letter so you can start getting that fear under control).
If you want to start a business, create a website to sell homegrown tomatoes or the stuff collecting dust in your attic (anything that will force you to think about the mechanics of SEO, shopping carts, basic accounting, and the other essentials of starting a business today).
Strategy #3 – Look for fingerprints: Tony Robbins says that success leaves fingerprints, but sometimes they’re not left by the usual suspects. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos did not invent the internet (Al Gore did that), but he did find fingerprints of success in what other internet companies were doing and applied it in a very new way.
Next week is the annual Values Coach strategic planning retreat. To prepare for that, I’m scrutinizing the “success fingerprints” of Financial Peace University, Zappos, and Enterprise car rental. None of them are in our business arena, which makes their lessons all the more valuable.
Strategy #4 – Avoid the Dream Stealers: At our recent CVC-T course I comment on this and said that some people will belittle your ambition and your dreams because misery loves company. At that, Marty Fattig (CEO of Nemaha County Hospital) jumped up and exclaimed: “Misery doesn’t just love company, it demands it!”
Marty is right. Though I’ve never tried this myself, I’ve been told that if you have a bucket full of crabs and one of them tries to crawl out, the others will grab it and pull it back down. If you want to get out of the box, you might need to change your reference group (that’s the sociologist’s term for the people you hang around with).
Strategy #5 – Dare most when times are darkest: When Lee Iacocca became CEO of the failing Chrysler car company, he didn’t do what most CEOs would have done in that situation – slash jobs. Instead, he launched one of the most audacious new car development projects in the history of the industry, giving us the K-car and the minivan – and saving the company in the process.
Who put you in The Box? Every now and then we’ll have someone call Values Coach and ask us to help them think outside of the box. And I always want to respond by saying “Who put you in a box, anyway, and why do you let them keep you there?”
“The Box” is, of course, a metaphor (at least I hope you’re not sitting in a real cardboard box!). But metaphors create mental models, and mental models shape our perception of reality. If you want to achieve your most authentic goals and dreams and become the person you are meant to be, you really do have to break out of that box.
Joe Tye is America’s Values Coach. He is also the author of several books and audio programs on personal, career, and business success, and a popular motivational speaker. Visit www.JoeTye.com
-what do you think of the ideas shared above? What are some ways you’ve found helpful in “breaking out of the box” that’s holding you back?