The Monster Under the Bed
“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt. The quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill — and rightfully so because his bold leadership — triggers an instant insight into one of life’s most paralyzing dangers.
Churchill knew that the worse thing England could do in response to the German threat was be paralyzed with fear. On September 1, 1939, the day Poland was invaded by Germany, the British began the largest single organized movement of people in world history. The country evacuated some 3.5 million children out of London before the inevitable bombing began. It is hard to imagine the mothers watching as their children marched off to train stations to be transported to some unknown place for an unknown period of time.
The courage to do what was needed to eventually win the war was demonstrated before the war even reached England’s skies. Because of the decisiveness of its leaders to face reality and do the right thing, even if it was incredibly hard, the Allies prevailed.
When change is inevitable, being paralyzed by fear only moves control of the change out of your hands and into the hands of others.
As leaders when we make decisions that set transformative change in motion, everyone involved will experience some degree of fear. Even when organizations make a commitment to dramatically increase employee engagement — something you would think employees would embrace — the fear of change can haunt people like a monster under their bed.
Equally paralyzing in the midst of inevitable change is blame. When change is coming, fear can cause us to blame people who are driving the change and make them the enemy. The enemy is not those who are leading the change — the enemy is the problem that requires change.
The only viable response when changes is inevitable is to head into the it with eyes wide open and a commitment to do something to help it be successful.
Yes, the monster under the bed is dangerous indeed, but only as long as we refuse to look it square in the face – only to discover the monster was our fear.