Why is change so scary

If you talk to any startup founder, entrepreneur or Silicon Valley entrepreneur, it is very hard to go more than an hour without hearing the words, “change,” “disruption” or “pivot.” It is kind of a rite of passage to pivot your business to go to a new untapped niche. In many cases, that’s pretty smart.

Change is widely accepted in startup culture. Startups are supposed to always be disrupting something. Innovation is praised and celebrated.But when it comes to making changes to ourselves as individuals, it is rarely welcomed and embraced with open arms. Most people probably won’t say outright, “don’t change.” But, their behavior patterns, actions and societal norms are meant to empower group think and keep you in your comfort zone.

Companies are run by people. People or more likely teams of people create these innovations and changes. So why is it celebrated in startups? But, not when individuals decide to change?

I stumbled upon this quote from Srini’s latest book, Unmistakable.

“People are uncomfortable when you start to change, because your actions remind them what they’ve been avoiding in their own lives. They’re forced to confront the fact that they’re choosing to remain the same while you’re making a drastic shift in the direction of your life. You hold a mirror up to all the fears they’ve given in to and all the goals they’ve chosen not to pursue.” 

If you really think about it, everything around you is designed to keep you like 99% of all the people around you. Both consciously and subconsciously.Thousands of years ago, you needed a strong group just to survive and not be eaten by predators. Without the power of the group, you would starve to death or be eaten by a bigger animal.That’s not the same as today. Sure, you need an emotional support network for mental and emotional well being. But, when you are in a group have you ever noticed how the longer the group has been together, the more everyone starts to think, act and even dress the same way. For example, just go to any shopping mall in America or Southeast Asia on a weekend. You’ll find hordes of teens in groups, everyone in the group acts and dresses the same.

The problem is that group think leads to conformity, security and safety but it comes at the detriment of creativity and innovation. It is much harder to be truly innovative without outside influences.

Group think becomes so engrained that when one person in the group changes at all (and becomes less like everyone else), they can quickly find themselves on the outside looking in.This makes the process of making even small changes 100x harder.

In my opinion, that’s an inherently dangerous place to be.

Every great opportunity that has happened in my life has come from following my gut and stepping outside my comfort zone.  For example, the post I wrote last month took me a few hours to write but more than 2 years to get the courage to publish. This post is now one of the top three posts I’ve ever written on this site.

Deciding to make a change is relatively easy.  You control how you implement a new change. It is the reactions from everyone around you that is so scary and can be downright paralyzing. You have no control what everyone will think of this change. You can only control your own actions.

If you really want to be creative, you need to embrace and seek out change every once in awhile. Yes, it is scary. Yes, you may be perceived as the lone nut, but you could also be the next Elon Musk. More than likely, you will be somewhere in the middle.

After all, if you aren’t changing, you aren’t growing. If you are not growing, you aren’t just stagnant. You are regressing.