Firstly, your biology doesn't like big changes. Your biology is wired to watch for and resist against major changes, because major changes in things like your body temperature, your blood pressure, your oxygen levels and so on, could kill you. Your body and that survival-driven part of your brain will resist big changes, and then you'll be fighting yourself as you try to make your changes, which leads to demotivation, low energy, inconsistent productivity, stress and reduced creativity and problem-solving capacity. Small changes let you manage your fear by gradually getting familiar with your new life and work.
You don't have to make big changes to get big results. In simple systems you have to do a big thing or lots of big things to make an impact. In complex systems, like our highly inter-connected world today, small changes can have an exponential impact.
There are very few successful people who became "overnight successes." Most successful people created their success through taking lots of gradual steps. I love Rick's core message behind the idea of sparking - that most successful leaps aren't leaps of faith. They're leaps of experience.
Making change gradually through a series of small steps is a lot safer than a big leap. Small changes allow you lots of opportunities to spot risks, to assess your impact, to research your questions, to address your fears and to adjust and tweak your strategy so that you manage risks and increase the likelihood of success along the way. There are things that you can learn only through experience and you'd just be guessing until you take your change into the real world. The best plans are based on accurate information about reality and we can only get truly accurate information about reality by interacting with reality.
Taking small steps allows you to build confidence through exposure and through practicing your skills. You can overcome fears and build confidence to some extent by analyzing a situation before you go in, but you can only build real confidence and competence by going in and getting experience in the real world. So if you're wanting to make a change in your work right now, but you're feeling terrified or overwhelmed by the big-ness of the change you're imagining, stop and take a deep breath and give yourself permission to consider an unconventional and smart change strategy that involves small steps and gradual change.
What next small steps can you take to test out the territory and move towards doing more of the work you'd love to do?
For more on how to make the right changes in your career, check out The Bottom-line on Rick Smith's The Leap over at Cath's Bottom-line Bookclub.
Author: Cath Duncan
Cath Duncan is a life and leadership coach and CareerJunction's resident Career Coach. Through one-to-one coaching and projects like the Bottom-line Bookclub, Cath helps people learn the Agile Living Strategies for thriving at work in this high-change era.