Written by Jason Haines

“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” -Dale Carnegie

Everyone has a fear of something whether it be zombies, spiders, or failure. We must learn to overcome this fear regardless of what it is and where it comes from. In many ways there are things in our everyday lives and jobs that we fear the most. This fear comes from, especially in our jobs, that we will leave a burden on the people that we most love, our immediate family. Over the past year many of us have felt this burden, in 2008 many of us felt this burden, and in other times we have felt this burden. Therefore, many of us fear change in our environments and do not rock the proverbial vote to make changes in our work environment. Even if it is to better us and the place that we work.

Often, we get wrapped up in the comfortable and think we cannot change things, or we fear making changes because they may not work out. We are afraid that if we fail we will be ridiculed, demoted, or even worse fired from our position that we worked so hard to attain. So, we just keep with the status quo and hope that we succeed through hard work, determination, and our connections in life. But this is not always the case as we see many people who are miserable, stressed, and just 100% unhappy with where they are. They are always thinking - is something more out there, the people in charge don’t get it, why are we doing this thing this way. Many of us have had these thoughts and have been in these situations.

Fear can be defined by the dictionary as a noun or a verb. The noun definition is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. The verb definition is be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening. As you can see both are fearing something dangerous, painful, or threatening and these emotions can come from change. In change the dangerous comes from the uncertainty of things that may happen as a negative with the change. The painful comes from the ridicule or disappointment we may feel if the change does not succeed the way we wanted it to. The threatening feeling comes from the possibility of being told you could lose your job if the change does not work for the better. So, a lot of people who have fears stick with the status quo because the fears maybe getting better far outweigh the outcomes of the change. Even though the change will have far greater long-term rewards than the status quo if the change succeeds.

”There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18. To conquer fear we must have love and Lean management is a methodology that shows love for people through it’s respect for people pillar. Lean practitioners realize they will conquer their fears and the fears of their people by improving processes and making everyone’s jobs easier, more efficient, and livelihood friendly. The last part, livelihood friendly, is probably the biggest benefit of any type of Lean movement within a company. Lean benefits everyone’s livelihood through giving more time to people with their families, more money in regular pay, less stress for everyone, and much, much more.

Many times, we try to sell the benefits of what Lean can do as how it will benefit the organization or the company, and do not talk about how it can benefit our people in the long run. Our people want to do well for our organization and make the environment better than before. People want stability because they fear losing their jobs or their livelihoods to support and protect their families. It is all about protecting and supporting the people we love. Whether as a company or as the leader of our family.

So, what are the top fears amongst people in the workplace when it comes to making the changes that will benefit our long-term lives? First is the fear of inadequacy. When we feel inadequate, we never seem to take a chance on anything because we fear we do not know, or we are not ready. This is a big thing to conquer and can accomplished through research, study, experience, and reading. Inadequacies come from the feeling of we don’t know something, and we cannot make a change due to our lack of knowledge. However, we can overcome this fear through trying things, or as they say fake it ‘til you make it, that we have no experience doing. Lean gives us this chance by helping us do things differently from what we have always done.

The next fears that are top of list are, in my opinion, all based in the same realm or sense of failure. These failures are the fears of failure, rejection, change, losing control, or something bad happening. With Lean these are large fears within any organization or the people that are working there because they affect their people negatively in every way. People want to be accepted as part of the group and that is no different in Lean or any kind of change. But when we think of any of the fears we discussed earlier in this paragraph we have a likelihood that we will not succeed and be scorned for our failures. People hate to be ridiculed for failures in any aspect of their lives, whether it is with their family or the organization they work in. Failure is something that people try to avoid.

Lean, on the other hand tries to embrace failure because Lean wants to teach people to learn from it. When the people are learning from failure they are learning how to teach and lead others. When they are learning to teach and lead others, they are teaching them to be future leaders and ambassadors of your organization. These people will be able to sell the product the company makes, the job at the company and many other things that will help the organization grow for the long term. Long term thinking reduces the anxiety of your employees, rumors, and the gossip of the bad amongst employees because it provides transparency and opens communication lines that will keep people informed.

The last fear that we see happen in Lean is the fear of being judged. Whether it is being judged that you were unsuccessful or being judged because you were successful, people will make their judgements. This is hard to get through whether they are good or bad. When they are bad people will stop and possibly never take another chance. When the judgements are good people may make bad decisions due to previous success. We must make sure all that we change will help us always.

As we can see fear is something we must conquer in our lives and overcome. Learning what we fear only makes us stronger and teaches us what we can really handle. Conquering our thoughts will help us overcome our fears and achieve our goals.

Helping you grow your business through process improvement!!