Earlier this week, I got an email from BusinessDictionary.com that made me chuckle. The term of the day was “laggards,” defined as:
…the minority group (roughly 16 percent) of population, which is the last group to try or adopt a new product. It consists largely of seniors, and those with low socioeconomic status. Laggards use friends and neighbors as information sources, dislike change, and accept new things only when forced to.
It made me laugh because of the timing of this message. First, we just launched the Bonfire membership community last week, and one of the primary tenets of the site is embracing change. Obviously, something laggards don’t like to do.
Second, this is an especially relevant term for non-users of social media. When I received the email, I had just written a post on the lessons I’ve learned about social media, so the timing was dead-on. It’s quite obvious that social media is not a fad and will be around for a while, so isn’t it accurate to categorize anyone who refuses to adapt to it as a laggard?
Laggards are watchers.
Laggards watch; they wait; they refuse and ignore until they are “forced to” adapt. I don’t know about you, but being “forced” to accept change sounds awful to me. I’d much rather be in control of the changes and make the choice about how I intend to adapt to them.
In my experience, one of the biggest reasons laggards refuse change is because of fear. Change brings a sense of the unknown, and that can be pretty darn scary. Risk, change, failure, success. You can’t have one of those without the others, and if you’re not ready to close your eyes and jump in, you could end up paralyzed, watching the changes and the “early adopters” speed past you.
It’s all about fear.
There’s nothing wrong with fear. Fear is a powerful sign that we have an opportunity to do something that can change our lives. Fear means we’re about to exit the warm, fuzzy atmosphere of our comfort zone, and we need to proceed with caution. But it also means that there could be something very worthwhile on the other side — a big adrenaline rush, the potential for success, a tremendous learning opportunity, a chance to conquer a personal demon.
So how can you get past the fear and make a change? It’s simple. At least how I do it is simple (there are a lot of ways to get past fear). I arm myself with as much information as possible, a) to make sure I know what I’m getting into and that I’m fully educated and prepared for what is going to happen, and b) so I can envision what will happen if I succeed, or if I fail. And then, I give in to the process and let the cards fall where they may.
It’s simple, but not easy.
Is it easy? No way; it’s not easy at all. The entire process makes me break out in a sweat, gives my hands the shakes and makes my heart rate speed up. And it’s not just my perfectionist Type-A personality that makes taking a risk so hard. It’s the possible failure, the potential for success, the not knowing how I’m going to end up on the other side.
But I do it anyway. Why? Because the fear of living with regrets, of not moving forward, of not trying new things, of being a laggard is almost always greater than the fear of change for me. There is always fear, the question just becomes what scares you more and what makes you act (or not).
What about you? Are you a frequent risk-taker, change-accepter? Or is it harder for you to adapt? And what do you do to overcome your own fear?
Image credit: wedward