For thousands of years, the top speed a human could get from point A to point B, was about 40 MPH, the speed of a horse. Today the fastest airplane is published as being capable of a 4519 MPH! It was around 1850 when the locomotive surpassed the horse as the fastest mode of transportation at around 50 MPH. In the last 170 years the rate of human transportation has increased to more than one hundred times the rate it was limited to for thousands of years. If you look at this from a communication perspective, and consider the horse also being the fastest form of communication for thousands of years, information can now travel near the speed of light; approximately 33,480,000 times faster than just 170 years ago!
All of this is to say we are in a time of accelerating change in our environment. If you graph technological advancement over the past 170 years, it is an exponential curve and all these changes influence how we need to do business. Yet business and organizations struggle to change. They have a tough time being adaptable. Every change initiative, from a digital transformation to a merger, is met with internal resistance.
>> Learn more at the webinar: Cultivating Adaptability: Normalize Change
Why do organizations struggle adapting to change when change is happening so fast around us?
Because individuals struggle with change, and individuals struggle with change because staying the same is safer, as far as the body is concerned. The animal in us craves the familiar, the predictable and the known. The moment we decide to do something different, and we can no longer predict the outcome based on past experiences, we will feel uncomfortable. That uncomfortable feeling is the body telling us we are in unfamiliar territory, and most people unconsciously use their feelings as a barometer for change. They resist change because “they just don’t Feel like it,” or “it just doesn’t Feel right.” It is uncomfortable, and we get to avoid that discomfort of change if we stay the same.
Now if we add to this situation the hormones of stress, which according to the American Institute of Stress is on the rise, we make this resistance to change even stronger. Here are just a few stress statistics, according to the Stress in America Survey 2022.
- 81% of Americans who participated in the poll were stressed out due to Supply Chain issues.
- 87% Americans are stressed due to the rising inflation in the country, up from 59% in August 2021 and 58% in June 2021.
- 80% Americans are tensed and stressed about possible Russian cyberattacks or nuclear threats to the US.
- 69% Americans fear that a World War III could break out and we are in the genesis phase of it.
- 65% of Americans responded that they were stressed about money and the economy.
Can we increase our tolerance for change?
We have now exacerbated the problem of individuals being resistant because stress is a survival response and when we are in survival, it is not a time to create, it is not a time to try new things, it is not a time to collaborate, it is not a time communicate, it is a time to Run, Fight or Hide.
Have you ever noticed that on those “bad days” when you are incredibly stressed, you have little tolerance for disturbances in your environment? We lose our cool because our children did not do the dishes or we flip our lid because somebody forgot to clean off the dry erase board when they were done, which we had all agreed we would do! This build up and sustained state of stress that individuals are experiencing lowers their tolerance for change.
In conclusion, businesses must become adaptable and experts of change to thrive in an ever-changing world. To do that, individuals need to be adaptable and to do that, they will need to become experts in self-regulation. They will need to be equipped with the knowledge and techniques of moving from a state of Survival (Stress) to a state of Creation (Flow) despite the conditions in their environment.
The good news is we have all the neurological and biological hardware to do this.
Written by Ken Scott