In transformational leadership and coaching, one of the biggest challenges we encounter in both ourselves and others is fear – fear to try the untested, fear to change something (even if it is currently not working), fear to initiate a new policy – the list can be endless. Underneath any resistance is almost always fear. It may be hidden in very subtle ways. Yet when we can’t seem to take the next step or do what we know we need to do, there is likely a fear lurking somewhere underneath. In my experience, that fear is often based in a lack of knowledge or understanding about whatever it is we are resisting.
The survival part of us wants guarantees and safety. It wants to know exactly what is going to happen, exactly how something is going to work. And so lack of knowledge about something can feed our fears. Certainly some of our fears are complex and take some time to address. Yet often, I find, the fears can be addressed simply by learning more about that which we are avoiding.
For myself, I find great resistance to doing anything that I don’t know how to do. This can really get in the way when you work for yourself and that work often involves travel, new cultures, and learning new skills! I catch myself procrastinating on making a decision or resisting taking a step because doing so will take me into unknown territory. Yet, if I will take a deep breath, and then do some research about whatever it is I am resisting, most of the time the fears go away very quickly. Often I actually then start to get excited about the very thing that I had been avoiding!
Knowledge can be one of fear’s worst enemies. Just becoming more informed about something can completely change your feelings about it. Then it is no longer the “unknown”. Becoming informed “turns on the lights” – you begin to see the path forward and discover how to do what you need to do. Becoming informed will very often take the edge off and allow you to move forward.