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  Tips for Conquering Your Fear of Change 

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"Change happens. We cannot control it, nor choose when or how it occurs. But we can almost always decide how to confront and get through it," writes Internet entrepreneur David González Castro (co-founder of Anuntis, Spain's leading online classifieds company) in his prologue to a new book about confronting our fear of change and moving forward.

Drawing on seven stories of professionals in transition, author Pablo Foncillas addresses the difficulties and opportunities that come with a career change: whether it be losing a job or taking on a new project with greater responsibility.

There's a common denominator to the book's stories: fear of change can be a paralyzing emotion. This fear can be overcome if we truly know ourselves, learn to dissect our fears and, ultimately, embrace change.

Foncillas has created a sort of alter ego called Professor Cambio (Change), a character who speaks with the book's various protagonists to detect the changes they need to make in their professional lives. Throughout, he offers tools to help them get over their qualms.

Fear of the Unknown
As a first point, Foncillas advises against clinging to one's roots: "Keep alert and ready to move geographically, or change companies, or lifestyles, as soon as you find yourself somewhere that no longer suits you or you sense changes afoot that are not going to benefit you."

Pragmatism, he suggests, is the best tool for dealing with change:
  • Say goodbye to nostalgia. "For life" or "until death do us part" are not realistic concepts in today's business environment.
  • Anticipate change. Being on the lookout for small changes can help you predict major ones.
  • Don't resist. Focus on what you can take on and ignore that which you cannot.
  • Take the reins. You don't need to wait for a change to happen to anticipate, manage and make the most of it.
Fear of Failure
What if we no longer think of failure as a defeat, but as a "non-victory" and a learning experience?

Take Post-it notes. From the invention of a glue that was considered faulty in 1968 -- it wasn't sticky enough -- the Post-it triumphed in 1977 when it was resurrected to mark pages without damaging them.

We need to avoid paralyzing fear, the book argues, and focus instead on mobilizing fear, within reason. The latter gets us moving -- though at its extreme it could cause us to underestimate challenges and mistake recklessness for courage. Moderation is advised.

The key tool for putting our fears behind us is self-confidence, which is achieved by analyzing our strengths and weaknesses: "This is the only way you will be able to assess whether the challenge you face can be overcome or not." You also learn what you need to improve and move forward.

Fear of Responsibility
Another major obstacle facing executives is the fear of the extra responsibility that comes with a new job. Will a recently promoted professional be up to the task?

A first step for conquering this fear is to establish a protective circle, a group of people who help reduce the risk inherent in decision making.

For this, again, you need confidence, as well as determination and a culture that recognizes the concept of non-victory. Keep your co-workers close and foster a culture of support. This means accepting errors as something natural and potentially constructive.

Good leaders should bring happiness, enthusiasm, energy, entrepreneurship and "lyhörd," or active listening, to their professional relationships. In other words, they should bring a good feeling to work. When starting a new job, these are the essential steps that such leaders should take:
  • Build a strong team. Surround yourself with people who make good leadership even better.
  • Avoid hasty decisions. Embrace doubt and ask a lot of questions.
  • Think and plan carefully, by crunching numbers and talking to people.
  • Bring together all the pieces of the puzzle, and assemble it properly.
  • Communicate. This is essential for bringing the team together.
  • Implement the plan with flexibility, adapting it along the way.
  • Assess the results, starting over if necessary.
Take Notes and Be Ready
Statistics show half of all senior executives are replaced every 18 to 24 months and the harsh reality is that all leave their posts eventually.

Good career management means keeping your doors open, by taking notes and staying on your toes. This means compiling lists of companies and jobs you think you might be a good fit for, as well as lists of people to stay in touch with. You should also dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to keeping those contacts fresh.

By telling seven stories based on true events, Foncillas offers a total of 70 tips throughout the book. The author intends that the proceeds from the book then go to fund 70 grants from Barcelona-based Fundación Exit, which aims to help young people at risk of social exclusion.
This article is based on:  Sin miedo al cambio
Publisher:  EUNSA. Ediciones Universidad de Navarra
Year:  2016
Language:  Spanish