The biggest obstacles to change are fear, lack of motivation, lack of knowledge and lack of vision. People will not change if they fear failure, if they dont have a reason to, if they dont know how to or if they dont know where change will take them. If changes are to be lasting and successful, it is essential to have the necessary reinforcement and tools at your disposal to assist you in the transformation process.
If you want to inspire change in others, you have to make their future rewards stronger than their current fears. First of all, we know that one must have the desire before change can take place. Therefore, dangling bait in front of somebodys nose is useless if its not something they find desirable. What do they want, and do they want it enough? The desire has to be there. Second, their desire must be coupled with enthusiasm. They cant say to themselves,
That would be nice. They really have to feel like, All right, lets do this! Not like,
Yeah, I want that, but . For lasting change to manifest in them, there is no room for half-heartedness or apathetic feelings on the part of your prospects. They must embrace change as their vehicle and step on the gas!
Third, your prospects must be open to suggestions, input and new ideas. Nothing is going to change if they keep doing the same things theyve been doing all along, right? So, theyve got to be open to new possibilities, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. People cant act differently if they dont think differently, and they cant think differently if they arent open to new information.
Fourth, your prospects must have a positive outlook on change as a growing process that will not take place overnight. Nothing sucks the energy out of someone faster than the realization of unrealistic goals or false hopes. At the very first encounter of struggle, such individuals shrink away in defeat. The challenges seem too daunting, or they slide into a negative, complacent attitude, thinking, See, I knew it wouldnt work . Then theyre just back to where they started, or worse.
Since it is one of the leading obstacles to positive, lasting change, lets first talk about fear. First of all, what is this debilitating but alarmingly common emotion? It is anxiety or tension that is caused by danger, apprehension, harm, pain or destruction. Fear stems from sources that can be real or imagined. The danger of unchecked fear is that it becomes a vicious cycle: You shy away from things because youre afraid of them, which in turn deprives you of crucial experience, which in turn feeds your lack of knowledge, which is one of the very things that makes you afraid in the first place. Whatever the root of the fear is, there is one thing that is always constant: Fear is an emotion, and like any emotion, it can be redirected. Consider the fact that psychiatrists find only two fears in a newborn baby: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. In other words, all other fears are learned, which means they can also be unlearned. Sounds too easy, doesnt it? Lets take a look at the four main steps in overcoming fear.
1. Develop a sound knowledge and understanding of what is triggering your fears.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Knowledge is the antidote to fear. This statement is so true. We always hear the saying the fear of the unknown. Im sure you can think of several examples, both historically and in modern times, of people who responded irrationally to situations and to people they didnt understand. Has this type of response ever proven to be a good thing? I cant personally think of a time when it has. Knowledge is never going to hurt you. What you dont know, however, will hurt you. In this particular case, knowledge is only going to better equip you to grab your fears by the horns. So, how does one acquire this knowledge? If you dont already know, deep down, what you fear, youve got to pinpoint exactly what youre afraid of. Isolate the fear-inducing thing, person or situationwhatever it isin writing. Write it down!
2. Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen?
Take a serious look at your fear in the face. Is the worst-case scenario a life-and-death situation? Could it even really be considered devastating? And even if it could, will it be more devastating to live an unfulfilled life than to take the chance? You gain strength, courage and confidence with every experience in which you confront your fears, no matter how painful. In retrospect, you are always able to say to yourself, I lived through this. I made it. I can handle whatever else may come along. Eleanor Roosevelt once very wisely said, You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
3. Allow yourself to feel capable of overcoming your fears.
Try to visualize your success, to feel what success would feel like. Success has to be real in your mind before you can make it real in true life. We always hear the saying that seeing is believing. Well, actually, in a case like this, believing first will mean seeing down the road. You cant achieve what your mind doesnt believe. Martin Luther King said it best: Take the first step in faith. You dont have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step. When you can see positive transformation, when it becomes a part of you, it will happen. Every time you feel capable and you mentally see yourself making the changes you want to make, a little chunk of internal doubt will erode away.
4. Take decisive action right away.
Once youve pinpointed exactly what your fear is, youve mentally confronted the worst-case scenario and youve let yourself work through the emotions of what your success is going to feel like, then you must take immediate and decisive action to diminish and ultimately overcome your fear. Hesitation only allows fear to fester and enlarge. Do something about it, before that fear continues to grow! Taking action will empower you. Doing nothing will just perpetuate your feelings of helplessness.