Why Do We Fear Change In The First Place?

by Paul Slezak
Building Culture, Videos - 5 years ago

Last month I shared Marty Wilson’s talk on ‘Why You Should Get Out of Your Comfort Zone‘.

Today I want to share another one of Marty’s inspirational videos on ‘Why We Fear Change In The First Place’.

I hope you enjoy it …


Hi I’m Marty Wilson, author of the bestselling What I Wish I Knew series and international conference speaker on taking the fear out of change.

Today I’m going to explain why we fear change in the first place.

Charles Darwin, born over 200 years ago, the father of the theory of evolution – and an incredible Thought Leader said: “It’s not the strongest of the species who survive, not the most intelligent, but those who are the most adaptive to change.

Change is hard for all of us.

I’m a pharmacist turned copywriter turned stand up comic turned wine writer turned author and speaker and I still find change incredibly challenging.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I love change. I am The ChangeMaster. Change scares me not!”?

Ironically, it’s actually evolution that has made change so hard for us. Survival of the fittest has actually hardwired our brains to seek patterns and avoid change.

When something is familiar we feel relaxed and confident.

When we’re trying something different, we get a surge of adrenaline that gives us sweaty palms and a tight feeling in our stomach.

We go into our favourite restaurant … Ahh nice. They’ve changed their whole menu … Ahh.

I come home to my wife of 10 years … I relax. I come home to my wife and her new personal trainer Sven, and I tense up.

We all know how this adrenaline feels.

Some call it fear or nerves or butterflies; some call it knots in the stomach; sadly some of us call it “that thing” that stops me learning a language, starting a business, or phoning that girl.

It’s such a shame we’re all brought up calling it “something bad”, because it doesn’t have to be. We only feel it at all because our physiology hasn’t caught up with civilised society.

Emotionally and intellectually we’re not primitive anymore, but we still have this Neanderthal part of our brain that sets off alarm bells if we ‘move too far away from the cave’.

10,000 years ago this was a great survival mechanism. Back then life was physically dangerous and people who explored were people who died.

But these days it’s almost never life or death. We still get the same big hit of adrenaline but we’re just out of our comfort zone so fight or flight just isn’t appropriate anymore.

In a new business pitch it’s not considered good form to run away from your client screaming like your hair is on fire, or lean over the desk and punch them in the head. However because we’ve grown up calling this adrenaline surge “fear”, that’s how we react to it. We all try to build a little bubble of sameness around ourselves to avoid it.

We choose new friends who are just like our old friends; Use new systems just like our old systems. We go into a pizza place, look at the menu and think “Hmm, Sicilian … Capricosa looks nice … but I’ll have Ham and Pineapple please”.

Life is a short, precious gift. We can’t let that underdeveloped Neanderthal part of our brain convince us to spend our life safely tucked up inside our cave.

To use a more Australian metaphor, don’t live between the flags.

Sure on the beach, swim between the flags. But don’t live between the flags.

If you’re choosing a motto for you life, please don’t make it “Same again thanks.”

If your life has a soundtrack, don’t make it a “Non-stop block of Classic Rock”. If your life has a pizza flavour please don’t make it Ham & Pineapple.

Marty Wilson is the author of the bestselling What I Wish I Knew series and international conference speaker. Check out his video series on taking the fear out of change.