Fresh Ideas: Standing on the precipice of change
For the Nevada Appeal
There is an old “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “Lothar of the Hill People.” The primitive hill people were having problems killing a boar. The boar was too swift and cunning. The elders struggled mightily with the problem. After a while, a youngster in the tribe, I think played by Macaulay Culkin, suggested they dig a ditch, fill it with sharp sticks, then cover it with branches. The boar would fall in and be killed. Lothar (Mike Myers) pondered the idea for a moment, and then spoke the line. “It is a good idea, but it is a new idea, so we must fear it and reject it.”
I’ve always loved this skit because it conceptualizes what most of us feel like when it comes to change. Now more than ever, it seems like change is all around us. Both our country and our city are on the precipice of major change. On March 21, our Congress passed the Health Care Reform act, the biggest government reform in 50 years.
On a local scale, over the next few months Carson City will be faced with the decision of keeping the city as status quo or launching downtown redevelopment.
Some of us may resent these changes because they don’t benefit us or because they conflict with our philosophy of how government should operate. Most of us, however, simply react to change a lot like Lothar. Why?
Dr. Jim Taylor, author of “Business: Why Change Is So Hard and How to Make It Easier,” explains that change comes with uncertain results. Knowing change will somehow make our life different causes unconscious insecurity, anxiety and fear of failure. This unease leads most people to avoid change, instead clinging to the notion that change is unnecessary, that the problems instigating thoughts of change really aren’t “that big of a deal” after all. In communities, when vocal people start to voice their fears, it further incites this unconscious insecurity in us.
Thoughts of change are usually there because of a need for change. So, Dr. Taylor suggests taking a leap of faith, or, in other words, charting a well thought out course for action and then mustering the courage to forge ahead. Try and stay focused on why change is needed and on your excitement.
Remind yourself of the old Texas philosophy, “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”
• Lisa Keating, Ph.D., is a Carson City clinical psychologist.