CHANGE WITH­OUT FEAR

FOR­MER AUS­TRALIAN COMIC of the Year turned best­selling au­thor Marty Wil­son takes a shrewd look at our in­stinc­tive re­ac­tion to change and why we shouldn’t let our fears stop us from step­ping out­side the cave.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - Marty Wil­son

WE ALL KNOW HOW ADREN­A­LINE FEELS. SOME OF US 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 SPE­CIAL SOME­ONE.’

CHARLES DAR­WIN, the fa­ther of the the­ory of evo­lu­tion, 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.

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

When some­thing is fa­mil­iar we feel re­laxed and con­fi­dent. When we’re try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, a part of our brain called the amyg­dalae, si­t­u­ated deep down in the basal gan­glia – one of the old­est parts of our brain – stim­u­lates a surge of adren­a­line that gives us sweaty palms and a tight feel­ing in our ab­domen.

We go into our favourite res­tau­rant and think, ‘Ah, nice.’ Then we find they’ve changed their whole menu. Our feel­ings change to ‘Eeek, not nice.’ I come home to my wife of 10 years; I re­lax. But I come home to my wife and her new per­sonal trainer, Sven, and tense up.

This is our body tak­ing part in the clas­sic ‘fight or flight’ re­sponse. We all know how this adren­a­line feels. Some of us 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 spe­cial some­one.’

It’s such a shame we’re all brought up to call this feel­ing 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 any more, but we still have this Ne­an­derthal part of our brain that sets off alarm bells if we move too far away from the cave.

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

How­ever, 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; fight or flight just isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate any more. In a new busi­ness pitch it’s not con­sid­ered good form to run away from your client scream­ing like your hair’s on fire, or lean over the desk and punch them in the face.

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 just like our old friends and new sys­tems just like our old sys­tems. We go into a pizza place, look at the menu and go, ‘Hmm, Si­cil­ian… Capric­ciosa looks nice… Ham and Pineap­ple, please.’

Life is a short, pre­cious gift. We can’t let that un­der­de­vel­oped, Ne­an­derthal part of our brain per­suade 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 hap­pi­ness has a motto, it’s not ‘Same again, thanks.’ If a life well-lived has a sound­track, it’s not a non­stop block of Clas­sic Rock. If suc­cess has a flavour, it’s not Ham and Pineap­ple.

MARTY WIL­SON is a phar­ma­cist turned award­win­ning copy­writer turned Aus­tralian Comic of the Year turned best­selling au­thor and change man­age­ment speaker. This year he will be speak­ing at ARPM 2015. For more in­for­ma­tion visit arpm2015.com.au.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.