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When Change Gets Us Down


Have you updated your phone or iPad with the iOS 7 yet?  Well, I have and I’m here to tell you that the whole ordeal has left me feeling like a hypocritical jerk.  I like to think of myself as someone who has a healthy interest in progress and change.  I downloaded the iOS 7 at my earliest opportunity.  But now that I’ve got it, I realize that I hate it.  I miss the “old” iOS.  I’m mad at myself for being so weak and dependent on the comforts of familiarity.  How could it be that my head says “change and progress are good” but my heart says “this is uncomfortable, confusing, and bad?”

We know that embracing change is critical to success.  Change allows us to grow and develop.  It expands our brains.  It allows us to stay one step ahead of our competition or – at a minimum – keeps us from being left in the dust.  Why is it that with all the good that change provides we still find it so hard?

Organizational psychologists like Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey — have spent their careers fixated on why we drag our heels when faced with change.  Below is a list of commonly cited reasons for hating work-related changes:

  1. We have competing commitments and therefore little time to deal with change.
  2. We want to avoid tougher future assignments; if we handle the current change with ease, we may get lassoed into heading up more changes.
  3. We fear the unknown; we’d rather cling to a system we know (even if we recognize its flaws), than learn something new.
  4. We worry that the change may reduce our time doing things at work we like to do.

I suppose my gripe is most consistent with the third listed reason, “fearing the unknown”.  To paraphrase how I personally feel about change, I’d like to add something along the lines of “I hate feeling idiotic and needing to ask others for help.”

Luckily, since I have teenage children, I have iOS 7 experts on hand 24-7.  My 13-year old daughter updated her phone 12 hours before me.  Miraculously, given her minuscule jump-start, her deftness in navigating the phone’s new features is light years ahead of my understanding.  I’m grateful for her help but horrified by my own ineptness.

I’m impressed with Apple’s ability to pull me – and many others – into the future.  Truth be told, I don’t really want to uninstall my software update.  Instead, I want to fast-forward through the learning curve process.  Change frequently makes us feel uncomfortable – or in my case – stupid.  Thanks to Apple, we have a safe environment in which to remind ourselves of the difficulties and eventual benefits of change.

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