How do you feel about change? Does it scare you? Does it excite you? We all know change is constant, but the pace of change changes. For thousands of years, the pace of change was really slow. Of course, there were some leaps forward (e.g. the wheel, the printing press), but mostly change unfolded with sloth-like slowness. People who craved change had to explore new lands, because the old world continued to creep in its petty pace.

Then the Industrial Revolution happened, and the pace of change increased. Then the Technological Revolution happened, and the pace of change increased, even more! And the rate of change will continue to increase. Artificial intelligence, robotics, nano technology, and who knows what else will fuel its quickening pace. But we cannot even think about that, yet, because the crazy-fast change of 2020 is so disconcerting.

All change is not good. That’s the only reason to be afraid of it. The fathers of Behavioral Economics, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, won the 2003 Nobel Prize in Economics for a theory called Loss Aversion. (Actually, only Kahneman won the Nobel. Tversky died young and the Nobel is not awarded posthumously.) Loss Aversion says that we humans believe change will lead to bad outcomes about twice as much as we believe it will lead to good outcomes. All change is not good, but neither is refusing to change.

Think about time passing as a mountain hike, at the top are achievement, fulfillment, and contentment, at the bottom are resentment, regret, and despair. The trail continually splits in two. One trail going up. One trail going down. You get to choose, at each split, to climb up or to coast down. Climbing is hard, coasting is easy. And each upward trail also has obstacles – rocks, fallen trees, difficult terrain. You cannot stop, but you can, repeatedly, choose the smooth descending trail. No climbing required. No muscle or mental development required. At any point along the way, you can choose to climb, but if the muscles and mind have not been developed by the challenge of previous climbs, it becomes increasingly difficult, and at some point, too difficult.

So how do you climb?

Be a part of change, not apart from change. Be a proactive participant. Be an agent of change. It is not fun to have change forced upon you. When you’re apart from change, you have no voice. When you’re a part of change, you have influence. You can create and innovate.

Surround yourself with experienced “climbers.” Jim Rohn says, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Surround yourself with people who are willing to pull you up and push you to be your best.

Don’t coast. As documented in Chris Crowley’s book Younger Next Year, many 80-year-olds still snow ski, but other 80-year-olds can’t even walk up the stairs, in their house. Keep choosing to climb. Keep challenging yourself.

Have hope. When we humans believe change will lead to good outcomes, a cascade of good neurochemicals is released into our brains and bodies. That cascade expands our perspective, generates better ideas, and produces better solutions. So believing change will lead to good outcomes actually leads to better outcomes, which, of course, makes it easier to believe change will lead to good outcomes. It’s a virtuous loop.

Experiment. You cannot predict the future, but that’s okay. Steph Smith wrote in “I’ve recognized that life is always changing and to stop viewing it as a linear path but instead as a continuous series of experiments.”

Reappraise. How do you feel about change? Does it scare you? Does it excite you? Physiologically, fear and excitement are similar. What’s different is how we interpret the feeling. You can do what’s called cognitive reappraisal, which is to reframe fear as excitement. This is what we do when we choose to approach a situation as a challenge instead of as a problem.

Use change to create and innovate. Surround yourself with skilled climbers. Don’t coast. Have hope. Experiment. Reappraise.


Engaged Banker eXperience delivers these and many other strategies, from behavioral science, to all of your bank’s employees, in bite-sized bits, in every learning style, using spaced repetition and synchronous communication. In other words, in a way every person can easily absorb and immediately apply, to their individual success and to the success of your bank.