Although “kainophobia” and “agoraphobia” are rarely used in the context of everyday conversation, there are tell-tale signs of those who demonstrate a significant level of fear in both change and loss of (perceived) control – not necessarily at the level of uncontrollable fear that kainophobia or agoraphobia are defined as but still significant enough that it’s palpable.  I think it’s only human and healthy to have some level of the aforementioned fears but they can become very frustrating to deal with if key players in any team have significant fears in both but don’t want to consciously acknowledge them.  That being said, I’ve seen this behavior both in individuals and in organizational cultures – neither of which really lead a person or organization to a road of success.

Being successful in anything requires vision, thick skin, grit and perseverance but when it comes down to attaining the desired outcome or result (“success event”), there are many sacrifices to be made along the way.  Even though I could start enlisting countless, potential trade-offs under the sun, but for the sake of semi-brevity for a blog entry, I’ll just stick to abandoning old schools of thought, methodologies or tools; and loss of (perceived) control to prevent public embarrassment.  To be a success, one has to take that long and treacherous road that tests one’s will and requires a conscious balance of drivers, between extrinsic and intrinsic values and opportunity costs, where public embarrassment of several failed attempts is finally reached with the ever-changing desired results.

The reason why I paint the “success event” as a moving target is because I consider experience as the greatest teacher and by learning more and acquiring more information, we discover new avenues of knowledge we have yet to explore, thereby increasing our awareness of the things we don’t know and increasing the scope or creating massive shifts of what that “success event” could turn out be.  For those who fear change, experience may furnish ugly truths of past beliefs or goals.  For those who fear loss of control, the new discovery of the lack of key knowledge can call into question of whether one is even in control of his/her own destiny.  Even though fear of success might sound foreign to most people, I see it to be more common than fear of failure, where people are afraid of failing even once and potentially in private.

Based on a recent string of emails, it was clear to me that one key player was demonstrating some heavy undercurrents of fear that oftentimes come off as aloof, dismissive, undermining and distrustful.  Even though I can handle all four of those behavioral traits, it’s coming to a point that I just don’t want to deal with it anymore because I’m incurring enough opportunity costs and I don’t feel it’s worth the effort in trying to convince the person anymore.  This is definitely not a rant, as I feel sad that this person has forgotten how to learn and would instead choose to subscribe to dated misconceptions and make incremental changes that can be “controlled” every step of the way, versus putting trust into and learning from others who can help make leapfrog improvements.

Just like individuals, this is the kind of tragedy that has befallen many companies that failed to pay attention, learn from and adapt to the “new rules of the game” and get left behind.  I won’t venture to guess what the root cause of any fear is borne from but if they are to be confronted and managed, it has to be the person bearing the fear.  Obviously, there are a multitude of aspects that address research in psychological and sociological disciplines that I just don’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole but we all have our respective levels of experience and expertise in dealing with those who bear these fears but I think the sooner they can come around in really taking hold of their issues, they’ll at lease start on some solid footing for their first step towards success.

“I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.”

– Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson

“According to Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species,’ it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

– Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge

“Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs.”

– Nicole Kidman playing the role as Dr. Claire Lewicki in Days of Thunder

“Each of us has the right and the responsibility to asses the road which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting-inviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well.”

– Maya Angelou

Mr. Shin is a Moore Fellow and an Inc. 500 award winning executive, who possesses continuous intellectual curiosity in the intersections of business, creativity, and technology, with over eighteen years of well-rounded and seasoned leadership of complex initiatives working with many diverse teams across several industries. He is currently a Co-Founder for Content of Characters, Board Member for Dosha Pops, Co-Founder for In The Lights PR, and Advisory Board Member for TriplAgent; consults, mentors, and advises other startups; and has held senior leadership positions that demand: corporate governance, executive management, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, program management, business transformation, product development, new products / services launch, business development, strategic positioning, technology management and enterprise risk management.