Change Aversion, Iocane Powder, and Your GPS

The fact is that all of us demonstrate elements of being change ready and change averse. Equally true is the fact that we all live and work in environments where the pace of change is constantly accelerating. Help yourself be more adaptable by building up a tolerance for change.

I admit it. I’m rebellious, change-driven, and a radical non-conformist… in small doses.

Some people are bomb-dropping, mountain-moving, headline-making change agents. Whether in leadership roles or executing tasks, they are ready to rock, all the way, all the time. Fundamental transformation, baby – do it now! And when we’re done, let’s change it back so we can do it again. These people may be driven by a compelling personal vision for the future. Of course, they may also be easily influenced, distracted by shiny objects, or have chronic wanderlust. Either way, they have a very high tolerance for change.

Other people have a lower tolerance for change. Where others see stubborn ruts, they see clear, proven processes. Where others feel a prickly monotony, they feel a comforting security. Fools rush in, as the old song says, and the only thing these take-it-slow folks won’t hesitate to do is to remind you of it. Everything else can wait.

The fact is that all of us demonstrate elements of both of these broad stereotypes. But equally true is the fact that we all live and work in environments where the pace of change is constantly accelerating. Being adaptive and open to change is a personal and professional life skill.

In the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, the famous “battle of wits” scene between Vizzini and the Man in Black concludes with a bit of wisdom that change averse people – meaning “all human beings” – can learn from. Here, watch the scene so you have it fresh in your mind:

The Man in Black survives the battle because he “spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.” That’s interesting. He was prepared for a challenging situation because he had spent sometime building up his tolerance. When confronted with the danger, he could depend on being able to survive it.

Instead of dosing up on iocane powder, I’d challenge you to add something to your daily routine to help you build up your tolerance for change. It doesn’t have to be headline-making change. Just do something on a regular basis to take a different path and keep yourself accustomed to the unaccustomed.

Alternate Route Advised
Build up a tolerance for change by doing some little things differently every day.

My favorite low-stress change is the alternate route. When I’m driving somewhere for a meeting or show, or driving home, I will often take a turn just for the novelty of taking a different route. I like the opportunity to see what’s going on in the places or along the streets where I travel less often. If my GPS happens to be on, I kind of like to see it recalculating routes based on the turns I make and the one’s I don’t. I guess I enjoy that little power rush of asserting a little human dominance over technology!

Another option you might consider: order something different on the menu at the restaurants where you eat often. Sure, you already know what you like. You can always order that again sometime. Next visit, though, try something you’ve never had.

Sign with a different colored pen, park at the other end of the parking lot, sit on the other side of the room at church – whatever you do, throw a little change of pace into your life. Build up that tolerance one random turn at a time!



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6 Responses

  1. Hey Joe, I like some of these, and use several quite often. For example, at a nearby Mexican restaurant, instead of always ordering a number seven combination, I just go crazy once in a while, and order number eleven, and ask for lemon in my water! I know that makes me sound a bit like an adrenalin junkie, but maybe that’s a part of what has connected us in the first place. A behavior modification through a shift in pattern, and a break with habit is not always as easy for some as it might seem to a “…rebellious, change-driven, and a radical non-conformist… “. Think of what that description indicates about temperament and style. The issue for many people, in fact most, is coming to terms, not with what they want to change, but their fear of how they might be hurt by it.

    Some people will not begin to build up a resistance to change until they learn why they are resistant to it in the first place. As you said, some people “…have a lower tolerance for change.” This is not only true, the diversity of this critical difference is complex. I work with about 16 different models of this issue in character analysis from an actor’s point of view. Not only can the client begin to see their own obstacles (and strengths), but recognize those of others around them as well. Generally, until a person sees the avoidance of change as more harmful to their primary need than the risk with the change itself (which may seem like poison at first), that alternate route, the road less travelled, will show now signs of having been used at all.

    I enjoyed this post, but particularly appreciate you closing with a rather sage piece of advice. And that is to:

    “Build up that tolerance one random turn at a time!”

  2. Joe, that’s one of my favorite movies of all time and I love how you used that scene to illustrate preparedness & mental agility. Like Van, I love “Build up that tolerance one random turn at a time,” and giggled at the thought of you asserting dominance over your GPS unit. 🙂

  3. Hi Joe,

    Wow, really interesting content. The turn idea is very frightening, I can’t stand being lost lol, but I have a really different perspective on that now. I am solution based so change doesn’t rattle me into non-movement but again, somethings I must say, bug me. Change wise. This post truly offers a broadened positive perspective. It’s different and me likey!

  4. Thanks everyone!

    I failed to note one important thought. When I wrote “When confronted with the danger, he could depend on being able to survive it,” I should have kept going.

    Not only did he survive… he WON. By being prepared, he was able to turn his slowly-earned tolerance into a competitive advantage at a critical moment. That’s a pretty strong metaphor for the business benefit of having built up your change muscles and your tolerance!

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