I know a lot of people who not only fear change, but hate it. I had never really understood why. To me, change is always good. I’ve never gone through a change and said “I wish that never happened.” Even people who have gone through horrific things say “It made me who I am” or “I’m stronger for it” or some variant on that feeling. So why the anxiety about change?
People innately fear risk. It’s biological. So much so that we’ve actually coined a term for it: risk aversion. People don’t like taking risks because risks come with the possibility of loss, and people really don’t like losing. But change isn’t the same as risk. Think about all the changes you’ve feared over your life. Was there every really any risk that you’d lose? Even in the cases where some real risk did exist, I bet it looks much smaller in retrospect.
Seth Godin puts it nicely:
Over time, people have begun to confuse [change] with risk as well. We have concluding that if things are flowing, if there is movement, then of course there is risk.
Those who fear risk also begin to fear movement of any kind. People act as though [change], the movement of people or ideas or anything else that’s unpredictable, exposes us to risk, and risk exposes us to failure. The fearful try to avoid collisions, so they avoid movement.
These people have made two mistakes. First, they’ve assumed that risk is a bad thing, and second, they’ve confused risk and [change], and come to the conclusion that movement is a bad thing as well.
If your project doesn’t have movement, then compared to the rest of the world, you’re actually moving backward. Like a rock in flowing river, you might be standing still, but given the movement around you, collisions are inevitable.
The world moves fast now. If you’re not changing, not only are you bound to fail, you’re boring. Don’t believe me? Go check out what your favorite website looked like just a few years ago. What if facebook still looked like this 7 years later?