Beware of Your Natural Impulses
As organizational change closes in and uncertainty clouds the future, a primal alarm goes off deep inside your brain. Without any conscious effort on your part, this basic survival instinct warns you: “Be careful!” Automatically you start scanning for danger.
This natural impulse, designed purely for your self-defense, asks questions like these:
- How could I get hurt in this deal?
- What do I stand to lose?
- Where could things go wrong?
- What should I do to protect myself?
These are good questions, evidence that this instinct has your best interests at heart. But while it’s good at spotting the potential for harm, it cannot detect the glint of opportunity. Good possibilities get ignored.
With no eye for the potential upside of change, this particular instinct conducts a one-sided risk assessment, focusing only on protecting you from something negative. The hazard? It can distract you from seeing the positive aspects of change.
And there’s another funny thing about us humans that you should know: We’re wired such that we just naturally weigh losses differently than gains. It’s like we use different scales. Dr. Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research that discovered this peculiar behavior. He found that losses carry twice as much psychological impact as wins. No surprise, then, that when we survey uncertain situations, our attention focuses mostly on dodging the threats. This negative bias interferes with the ability to see opportunity and stifles our willingness to take promising risks.
Your challenge is to think past these natural impulses. What if the uncertainty just happens to be giftwrapping, and your job is to find what’s hidden inside?
"Not everything that is bad came to hurt us." —Italian proverb