Imagine an Olympian in the 400-yard dash who can’t get off the starting block. The gun is fired, the other competitors leap forward, but she just stays there with her foot glued to that block. What could possibly keep her from moving forward? She has trained for this race for years. She knows a quick start is essential. So why is she just standing there?
Her thoughts have formed an anchor of fear that weighs her down:
1. What if I fall in front of the world?
2. What if I disappoint my coach?
3. What if I’m not worthy of the win?
How Fears Stop Change
Each one of these fears stops leaders and individual contributors from moving forward with change every day. Our first fear is falling. Toddlers are the only human beings on earth who relish the fall, because they don’t know yet that it’s a problem, and they have a huge support system created by adults who are cheering and applauding every step. The question is: When do we become so afraid of falling? Why can’t we see it as falling forward?
Secondly, most of us are terrified of letting down people who have helped us to succeed. Spouses might have sacrificed for us; parents might have mortgaged the house for our education. What if this change we are experiencing or asked to lead results in us losing our job or our status? What will others think?
Finally, we don’t feel worthy of success. In fact, I venture to say we’re more afraid of success than failure. With failure you have a lot of comrades who will commiserate and pull you into their community. Success is a community built with a much smaller population and, ultimately, less popularity. People love long shots the year they first win, but their ardor cools when they win again, and again and again.
Three Olympic-Worthy Thoughts
To move forward, we need to allow those thoughts to exist while refusing to listen to them. Challenge them by converting the questions into change messages:
1. Falling means I’m moving forward. Kudos to me.
2. People who have supported me love me unconditionally. The only way I fail them is to fail myself. Move forward.
3. I’m not made worthy by a win or a loss. I am a part of God. I am always worthy.
Remember what Marianne Williamson said about our greatest fear: We are afraid that we are powerful beyond measure. Each one of us has the strength within us to move and lead through every obstacle change throws our way, but we have to ignore the thoughts that tell us otherwise.
Question: What other messages do you give yourself to move forward during times of change?