Two strategy consultants Al Reis and Jack Trout tell an interesting story about how the reluctance to face change held them back for 20 years. They knew that they would be more successful if they followed a new strategic direction but they didn’t have the courage to get off their agency horse.
In the end they realised that their agency was going nowhere and that they had to overcome the fear of change. They got rid of their agency, repositioned themselves as marketing strategists and faced their fears.
As they say, change is never easy. “There is no guarantee that the grass will actually be greener on the other side of the paddock. But if you’re in a rut, you have no choice. Look around you, pick the horse with the most potential, cross your fingers, and climb into the saddle. It may just be the best ride of your life.”
Even though we know that we have to change often we learn the lesson the hard way by sometimes being forced to overcome our fear of change. Sometimes events overtake you. Your employer goes bankrupt. You lose your job. Your health unexpectedly deteriorates. Skills and experience that were in demand are no longer needed. But as Reis and Trout say, most people never come close to their real potential because they are afraid of change. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will only get what you’ve always got.”
Yet these unexpected change events often force you to look around for opportunities that you stop looking for when you were in a so-called “comfortable” position or in the same old rut. When you have got over the initial shock or jolt of change, your mind is constantly focused on looking for opportunities. Sometimes you spot opportunities that you had no idea about or you may have thought you wouldn’t be interested in them.
One example: an entrepreneur I know made a massive loss on a local currency decline against the US dollar. It didn’t finish him but he was badly stung. Rather than sit around and cry about his losses, he decided to look for an opportunity where he could better minimise risk. He decided eventually on a new format of restaurant and an operating model that would minimise downside should things not work out. A year later his new restaurant format has done so well that he was able to take two weeks off and go on a holiday at the coast.
Those entrepreneurs who have stared fear in the face or walked through the “valley of death” in their first year of operation know what it’s like to live with and deal with fear. Wrapped up in that fear is that if you try something new it might fail. Yet often entrepreneurs have to deal with failure after failure before they find success. Perseverance becomes critical. So does the need to learn new skills and, as Reis and Trout say, coping with the unexpected. Being paralysed by fear can be a real killer. You have to do whatever you have to do to keep moving.
If you are thinking of trying out an idea that you wish to turn into viable products of service, you need to give serious consideration to the fear of change. It’s nothing to be sneezed at. You must understand your tolerance for change and deal with your fears if you are going to venture into something new. If fear is holding you back, you should get yourself a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”. It’s a step-by-step guide that shows you practical, hands-on ways to turning your promising business idea into a possible business venture or source of income. It shows you how to minimise risk using methods from successful entrepreneurs who learned to overcome the fear and take action. If you need a copy, shoot me an email and I’ll put you on the waiting list and let you know when the book becomes available.