Something we can count on when we’re part of a transformation is that we will feel fear. Fear is a natural response to letting go of familiar things and trying new ones. The best change is the kind that surprises us with its extent and leads us to unimagined achievements. Leadership requires us to embrace change, transformation, and evolution; but the accompanying upheaval and instability, and the unknown potential effects can be frightening. Fear is just a feeling. The question is not how to stop feeling fear; it’s how to keep fear from affecting our conscious choices for positive change.
We’re not wired for change. In fact, some studies suggest that when a person is forced to change a fundamental belief, his or herbrain can undergo the same physiological reactions as the brain of someone who is undergoing torture. Thus, at a certain point, excitement about change is physiologically the same as fear. And yet, we thrive on change, and we can choose to welcome it.
Without change, nothing would ever grow or blossom. We couldn’t move forward to become the people we want to be. Change is crucial for growth, advancement, and survival. Living in a state of consciousness and vigilance enables us to be actors in our evolution—not victims of unknown forces. Change is ever upon us, and the choice is ours over and over.
The toughest thing to change is our mind. Think about the year you were born and list three things that have come into existence since that year. Say you were born in 1963. It was a time without personal computers, cell phones, and automobile air bags. But if you were born in 1963, you may find it difficult to imagine life without them. This is just one illustration of how our culture, our communities, and we as individuals are evolving every day.
We live in an era marked by an unprecedented abundance of capital and an exponential explosion of ideas. More than ever, with the advances around us, leaders are needed to create community and to galvanize the power of community. Leaders are needed to embrace the future, using our collective abilities to unleash individual achievement and challenge complacency. If you are an executive in a leadership role, it is assumed that you keep up with the advances in your field.
Much less is said about making a similar study of our own knowledge, abilities, commitment, habits and interests. Yet, until we are in touch with ourselves, wecannot ask others to become conscious of their potential to contribute to an evolving workplace, community, or world. The challenge is to continue advancing in consciousness of all our surroundings, not just the technical ones we need to stay competent in our fields.
We don’t get a certificate for personal mastery. No one gives us a grade. But personal mastery is a differentiating variable in determining the success ofindividual and organizational transformation.