The Fear of What If

If you’re going to learn and grow, you need to listen to things with which you don’t agree. You are going to have to suspend your own perspective and step into that of someone who thinks very differently than you do. The single greatest reason most people don’t is fear.

The fear that stops you from opening your mind to, at least temporarily, embrace the outlook or viewpoint of another is based on What Ifs you can’t bear to answer:

  • What if I have been wrong all of this time? I’ve spoken out loudly about how right I was. How can I undo all of that?
  • What if the understanding that I was wrong makes me face what I need to do to be right? I have always done things the way I do them now. It would be a tremendous burden to change the way I do them now.
  • What if embracing another viewpoint, even temporarily, makes me realize how wrong the person with that viewpoint is? What if that realization dramatically changes my relationship with that person?
  • What if embracing a new way of thinking means that I will have to confront that the way I’ve been doing business, or my company has been doing business, is dreadfully wrong and holding all of us back?
  • What if that realization means that I must face extraordinary financial challenges in order to fix what is wrong? Where will that money come from?
  • What if embracing an alternative viewpoint, even temporarily, tears my world asunder because everything I am is founded on the viewpoint I have now?

Embracing an alternative outlook temporarily may not mean that you need to transform your approach or your life, but it may. And the fear of what may happen is what holds so many people back from exploring the “what ifs?” that could make them so much better.

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