Fear of Change and Other Mental Models That Hold Us Back

Nicki-Gilmour-bioBy Nicki Gilmour, Executive Coach and Organizational Psychologist

Last week, we spoke about how expanding your mindset can truly take perspective mentally and not be beholden to your home-grown beliefs, paradigms and basically anything that your granny and society told you that you had to think, act and feel. We talked about the more we can move things from purely subjective to being an object then we can be more open to working with new ideas. I describe this to my clients using the glass half full/glass half empty adage, if you reframe it to an object, let’s face it, it is just a glass with some liquid in it and you don’t have to have any feelings around that at all.

Nearly all of us show courage at work and life. Nearly all of us have fears. Those fears are often deeply rooted in paradigms and mental models that we hold that play out in our “inner theater” telling us we could fail, we could lose something, we could look silly (amongst many other things.)

How do you take these anxiety ridden based on nothing assumptions and recognize them as the Gremlins that they are? They are present to sabotage your ability to take the next step and embrace whatever comes with that change?

Kegan and Lahey in their brilliant book “Immunity to Change” offer actual exercises on how to understand what your worries are and how they are often competing commitments to your main objective. For example, you might be keen on delegating more but find that you ultimately want things done your way; making your goal harder to reach.

It is the assumptions (those built in paradigms) that create these competing unconscious and conscious thoughts and behaviors. By surfacing and testing your assumptions – such as what it is that makes you assume that your way is best, you can make real progress towards growing, succeeding and leading!