You want something new but you’re afraid
Yesterday I had a conversation with a person who longs for something more than what they are currently doing. They feel trapped. Current responsibilities wall them in. They fear taking a leap into something new. They can’t risk losing what they have in order to gain what they don’t have.
Current obligations and responsibilities pressure us to stick with things we may hate. All the while, hidden below the surface the dream languishes. What’s a person to do?
First, realize leaders long for something more. Dissatisfaction may indicate a leader lurks within you. However, here’s a warning. Lazy people are frequently unhappy with their lives. If you’re lazy, you aren’t a leader.
Second, can you begin your new thing without letting go of an old thing? Is chasing your dream an all or nothing proposition? If it’s not an all or nothing proposition, set the wheels in motion.
Third, gather advisors and talk things over. Share the vision and have action oriented conversations. Convincing others your dream can work is essential to pulling the trigger. Leaders and innovators always convince others their dreams work.
Fourth, don’t wait for perfect solutions. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Have enough confidence that you can solve unforeseen problems. In addition, realize course corrections are the rule not the exception.
You shouldn’t follow every dream or idea. However, if the ache for something new is deep and persistent it may be time to gradually pull the trigger.
How can someone pull the trigger on an idea without neglecting current responsibilities?
This is a good post and perfectly describes my current situation. Always that fear of taking that leap into something new or into the dark. That fear of losing what has been gained and a fear of losing everything.
However, regarding laziness, it isn’t always the fault of the person/employee. I’ve seen certain colleagues of mine become lazy not because they are actually lazy but because of the bad culture within the company.
Thanks for leaving what looks to me like your first comment on Leadership Freak.
I’m glad we connected on how being stuck can feel. Thanks for sharing your story and perspective.
Best to you,
I think desire and fear guide people more than laziness. When the desire for something new is very strong and the fear of changing is less than the fear of staying the same, THEN people change.
Your steps to doing something new/different are spot on. 22 years ago I started my search for something new. I did exactly what you recommended and then made the move to self-employment. I never looked back. In fact for me, life truly started when I started my own business. View this short 2 min music video with guidance on how to get to YOUR new spot wherever it may be: “Transitions the Easier Way”
Change is less frightening than you think it is!
Perfection is the enemy of progress. It is very classic and true. We look for perfect people, environment, culture, leader but the reality is perfection is illusion. Rather we should try to improve daily. Efforts are more important than imagination for perfection. The person who expects the worst and does the best wins and survives in any circumstances.So, never expect perfect situation rather start moving towards perfection.
In organizations, people at lower level have better ideas but afraid to speak because they fear that they might be retributed. It is also because communications and directions are top down. But when it is down up or mix up of both, then it is easier to speak up. So, top down direction and control often creates fear in the system which in turn prevents creativity and innovations. That is why, for a effective leader, communication, interaction and free flow of information are most effective tool to involve and lead. Work pressure prevents creativity and ideas because you do not have time to think. So, flexibility and freedom in work schedule and curriculum might increase creativity, innovation and generation of new ideas.
I agree that lazy people are usually unhappy with their lives. And the funny thing is that they have more suggestions and ideas than anybody else. You can not win argument with them. And they poke their nose everywhere. These people also rigid and think themselves more intelligent and knowledgeable. The best way to transform lazy people is to give them responsibility and isolate the resources they depend upon. And the most important is boycott them.
Marketers who understand consumer behavior have long said that individuals are more motivated to action by fear than by potential rewards. For the average person, the potential of a better life is insufficient to move them into a leadership role.
I have studied innovation and entrepreneurship for years, and I used to think entrepreneurs and leaders possessed some special characteristic or a certain gene in their DNA that caused them to take charge. However, the more I look at it, the more it seems that even entrepreneur are driven to move away from something they fear. It might be the fear of poverty, the fear of not providing for their loved ones, or the fear of failure.
I knew a manager at a large company who told me he was going to be the best manager possible because he feared failure. This was interesting to me because he had always been successful and really didn’t know what failure was. Still, he was certain he didn’t want it so he led his organization very effectively.
Very pertinent question for these times. I did a post recently on this (http://brainzooming.com/?p=3371), and here are some of my recommendations to get ready for change RIGHT NOW:
1) Figure out how to get more flexibility in your life – financial, time, relationships, etc. This allows you more options.
2) Create situations where it’s possible to make mistakes before it really matters. It will help you learn your way to a better feel for what the future may look like.
3) Don’t just build a network of relationships – actively start using it to benefit others and yourself.
4) Cultivate multiple options. Nothing is ever for sure. Be ready with a “just in case” option(s).
5) Borrow great ideas and tweak them. Just make sure you extend credit even MORE liberally than you’re borrowing!
6) Tap into your spiritual life. Spend time in reflection and questioning about the path you think you’re being drawn to now.
7) Don’t listen to people who tell you, “It’s the worst time in the world,” to do what your attempting to do. In reality, it’s the worst time in the world to tell someone it’s the “worst time in the world” to pursue their dreams.
That’s my advice…advice I try to follow myself as well!
Good thoughts, Dan. It’s difficult to adopt the way of thinking that says a small improvement today is better than perfection tomorrow. I like this quote:
“Quick and Crude is better than Slow and Elegant” – John R. Black
No plan is perfect, because the world is not perfect and is ever-changing. No matter how much time spent in planning, unforseen events will occur. Since you will have to adjust anyway, get moving…now. Here’s another quote by a man who knows a thing or two about achieving goals:
“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” – General George S. Patton
Leaders shine when ‘what is acceptable to society is unacceptable to me’.
When the point of personal intolerance reaches the level of action, we have a leader.
Regardless of if it’s born from fear or desire – the action springs from being within.
Crisis or vision – both are the birthplace for change, the birthplace for leaders.
Dan – most leaders have a bias towards action, so I question your Step 1, but fully agree with 2-4: considering a range of options, expanding the conversation, and not getting bogged down by a quest for perfection. There is another point to consider: timing. Change has seasons, and there are times to accelerate and times to slow down.
I’ve been in positions a few times where my head screamed “change now!” and my instincts said “wait.” When I’ve chosen to honor the instincts, the results have always been strong, as it gave others the chance to feel ownership of the changes. When I’ve pushed ahead, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
Conversely, I’ve been in positions where my head (and everyone around me) argued for going slow and instincts said to be aggressive. Again, results have been more consistent when I’ve honored the instincts.
As in all leadership issues, there is no cookie-cutter solution to the question of “change now or later?” Rather, we require increased awareness and sensitivity to the total context. Sometimes our organizations need a push, sometimes a rest.
Great post, Dan. I can personally relate to this situation after being in a big company for over 12 years and as a result being comfortable but not challenged. I wanted to do more as well, and it was the combination of personal and professional that made me change. I found a great professional opportunity in a smaller company with more responsibility. And it was in the right location to bring me closer to friends and family.
Even though the decision was difficult, looking back I know I made the right decision to move when I did. Of your four steps above, #3 was they clincher for me. I talked with my trusted network of advisors and they all told me to jump at the chance.
By inserting one’s passions persisting into life – and really living.
I like this. In my position, many people want me to do their hard work and make their dreams come true. Thanks for reminding me that responsibility for our dreams lies squarely on us. I am just one of many sources of resources for them!
Originally I was going to suggest we envision our moment of clarity nearing the end of life, whether it is just before a blinding light, reflecting in a rocker, or however that reckoning may be. How do you see your life? Regrets, hesitancy, woulda, shoulda, coulda or you took the leaps of faith, learned and jumped again More importantly, what is our legacy to those who follow? What did we learn that we must pass along?
Maybe, wanting something new means you are beginning to be aware that there is more that you can do and need to do. Dan, your four points are concise, might sequentially switch #2 & #3. When facing dissatisfaction, get wise counsel and then shift into incremental gears of action.
So perhaps this is all about risk…when to jump.
Many years ago in reading about best predictors for positive mental health was risk.
Risk every day in every realm-emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, and add professional and personal. It can be as safe as doing a crossword puzzle, going to a different church, or bungie jumping. The key is engaging in ‘safe risks’…which means risking with wisdom and skill.
Very important, wisdom and skill come first. Habitize & culturize such risking.
Physical risk analogy… maybe we do want to bungie jump, a literal leap of faith. I say, “let’s hit ‘mega-mart’, pick up some bungie cords and just do it, what do you say?
Wisely, you say, “while I appreciate the craftsmanship of mega-mart’s bungie cords, I don’t trust them with my life, so let’s go some place that has experience (skill) and decent safety record.”
Leaders typically have acquired the wisdom/skill and are ready for the next leap, while those led are still contemplating or perseverating on the last leap. Leading/pacing change is back again.
I appreciate this writing and comments as I would like to make some changes. The desire is there but there is the fear of the unknown and the idea of “perfection”. In my heart I know it doesnt’t have to be perfect in the initial first steps it is my mind that I have to convince. I find the hardest part of any project is getting started. As you have told me before Dan, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. I am making myself a promise to make the first steps toward change and search for others I might make.
Dan, I have 3 different suggestions.
1. only when the pain (or the pleasure) is high enough, they will go for a change.
2. follow the method as described in the book Switch. You have to take care of the rider (ratio), the elephant (emotions) and show the path.
3. est up a SkunkWorks operation, so the business as usual is not implicated.
I’m a firm believer that although not everyone is born with a great title …everyone is born for greatness. The greatest element in one’s success, is the element of belief or faith. Nothing in the world is more powerful than belief. All the people in the world who ever dealt with human development agree with this fact. Why? Because belief creates your life.. believing things that you haven’t yet seen to the point that you act on them until they come into being. It is through faith that people experience personal growth and success.. Fear is just having faith that something will end up hurting you. I choose to fear not and found that each step led to another to advice to the place that I believed and had faith to where I would be…
So, if when in doubt, choose to believe and find others who can elevate you to the point that you can accomplish your dreams… Fear has no place in you.. You were born to be great.
The most interesting thing about fear is that is disappears once it is named and visible. It has considerably more power when it operates without consciousness. In my coaching work with people who seek change but fear letting to of what is familiar, it is more about extending their trust in themselves and their abilities, reconnecting to their intuitive guidance than any magic pill. Taking one step at time toward self-actualization or achieving full potential is the antidote to something that used to serve us when we lived in caves and now just serves to paralyze phenomenal creativity and talent.
You have to overcome fear to be a great innovator. Here are a few ideas to consider — what works is a function of the individual’s temperament and the culture in which s/he is operating.
– Realize that the seeds of great innovation are less about technology, the latest whiz-bang creation and pure creativity — they are found in the identification of unmet/unarticulated needs of a large enough group of consumers to suggest scale (i.e., a big business) is possible, and the ability to get to a business model that can feasibly create decent financial returns. Viewed through this lens, innovation is not a crazy, high risk endeavor — it’s a basic necessity for growth. So many businesses bear the risk of not innovating, somehow thinking it’s a safer bet to follow the current path and not ‘rock the boat.’ You have to be willing to challenge status quo corporate mindsets and believe it’s actually less risky to your future to pursue innovation…both your business and your career will be enriched by getting this right. You will be unlikely to find these unmet needs on spreadsheets or in traditional market research — observation in the real world is going to be more valuable. This can be structured, if necessary, using contemporary techniques to gather customer insights.
– get sponsorship. Build alliances in your organization with, ideally, top management up to the CEO, so you can get input and support when others start to say things like “we’ve done that before” and “that will never work.”
– take a look at companies that have been successful at persistent innovation at scale (everyone loves to talk about Apple, look more broadly to find a range of lessons learned that might apply to you). Seek out the innovation leaders both to get advice and to have a supportive network of like-minded leaders.
– there is no such thing as “failure” if you take every experience, every pilot, every experiment and extract the lessons learned and then apply those to the next iteration.
– get over it. Innovation requires courage, passion, belief, discipline, collaboration, diversity of thought, focus. Or, if you are absolutely in a corporate culture where you conclude the success conditions don’t exist to foster and nurture new ideas, find the right culture and be willing to make a change.