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Fear, Uncertainty and Discomfort are Compasses Toward Growth

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

What if I told you 10 years from now your life, your job, your career would be exactly the same as it is today? Would you really be so happy to be frozen, stuck in time? I doubt it. Then why are you so afraid of change and growth?

It’s human nature. I get it. But for real. Why are all of us so afraid of change and growth – the future is always coming at us.

Change is Painful, but Nothing is as Painful as Being Stuck Somewhere You Don’t Belong

Recently, it occurred to me, that it has been a little over three years since I was “liberated” from traditional work. At the time, I didn’t realize that I had actually been set free. In fact, in that moment of being let go, downsized, fired, shit-canned, terminated or whatever HR is calling it these days, I felt the complete opposite.

I was trapped! And, not yet ready for the change and growth that I didn’t know I desperately needed, or that was headed my way. What I needed was a new game plan.

All Change is not Growth, as All Movement is not Forward

To be professionally honest, I absolutely hated the company I was working for when it happened. Upon learning that my services were no longer needed, I should have been jumping for joy. But in an industry and in an era where experience and a proven track record of success are no longer considered valuable assets, I knew I was in trouble.

After being largely ignored by recruiters, HR, talent acquisition and colleagues at other agencies, it became painfully evident that I was not wanted. It was now apparent that I had finally, as they say, “aged out” of the advertising agency business.

Without a substantive plan “B” at the ready, I then proceeded to fail spectacularly as a loading dock worker at a global shipping company, and couldn’t even get hired at my local Trader Joe’s Market. There was a brief masquerade as a real estate agent. I wasn’t good there either, but at least I had found a professional home that helped me to hone skills and to also learn new ones.

Growth from Change Doesn’t Come Fast or Easy

This story is a personal one, but it is also a familiar tale for many businesses, brands, companies and organizations. Perhaps they simply burn out or fade away. Maybe they hold on too tightly to business-as-usual and don’t want to let go, or they find it all too easy to rely on safe ideas that used to spur innovation, peak consumer interest and out-think the competition. Either way, the importance of having a plan and executing on that plan is critical to success.

Now more than ever, executive leaders need to recalibrate what it takes to realize significant growth and how to align deliberate forms of change that will propel us forward. In the past, growth and change never came fast or easy. The same holds true today.

Sure, emerging technologies provide mechanisms and platforms to be more efficient. But if it’s not integrated properly with a coherent strategy and customer-driven data, it may not be as effective as anticipated.

When done right, it improves customer acquisition, provides context for better customer retention and creates smart, compelling ways to drive consumer engagement.

That doesn’t just happen, those types of brilliant ideas require a passionate executive leadership team and inspired cross-functional teams to pull it all together with relevant and emotionally evocative narratives.

The Two Biggest Truths about Change and Growth

By now, I hope you’ve realized that my professional journey has led me to a new place. One full of growth opportunities and rich with an abundance of life-changing and transformational experiences.

In my hesitant and even reluctant course of evolutionary action to become an entrepreneur and the Founder of //NKST, I have learned two of the biggest truths needed to enact personal and professional levels of change and to chart exponential growth.

1.) You can’t get there by yourself: As a general operating principle, people and organizations must learn to place trust in one another’s skill sets, talents and expertise. In doing so, we all thrive when collaborating with others to better understand and solve the problems we face together. That comes in handy when we need the strength and courage to put our collective, professional reputations on the line with new ideas, fresh perspectives and earnest displays of empathy.

2.) You never know the events that will transpire to bring you home: When we push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, things happen. How we perform and how we react is based on our reservoirs of learning, knowledge and experience. In any given situation, we strive to do our best, we read the room, and move through key progressions in order to advance our position.

Sometimes, those things that happen go just as we expect them to. Other times, those things that happen are completely out of our control. And, sometimes in that chaotic randomness, a new solution appears. One that would not have been visible to us had it not been for that unexpected “bad” thing to happen.

Life and business are funny that way. Just when we think we have it all figured out, WHAM! We are required to adapt, innovate, create, reflect and adjust accordingly.

That is what we call change that leads to growth. And to that, I keep telling myself, “Shut Up and Pedal.”

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