Ripping off the bandage
Imagine having a bandage on your arm. Would you prefer to rip it off fast, so that the pain is short but quite intense, or would you prefer to take it of slowly, so that the pain is less painful, but lasts longer? Which option would you chose, taking it off fast or slow?
Intuitively most people would go for the fast option. And this seems reasonable, because we want the pain to be over as soon as possible.
Getting out of the box
So I am wondering why are we applying this principle not to other areas of our lives?
Why do we keep all these small habits that are knowingly bad for us, like smoking, drinking, eating fast food, you name it.
Why don’t we make a clear cut, rip off the bandage and never look back?
Why do we prefer to keep our routines, to live in a box? We wake up in our apartment or house, which is essentially a box. Then we go to work in a box on wheels. At work we sit in a cubicle or offices, another box. And when we come home in the evening we sit in front of a box. Why don’t we break out of this box more often? Since when we are dead we will spend enough time in a box.
There are two reasons for why we are so resistant to make a change.
The first reason is we are afraid of what is outside that box, of what might come in the future.
Now, not everything might be perfect, but at least we know what to expect. It gives us a feeling of security, control and comfort. That is why it is called comfort zone.
But aren’t we also curious about what else is there or what might be possible if we leave the box? Paradoxically, we humans want to search for the truth, but at the same time are afraid of it.
Let’s face it, chances are that things might be different outside the box, different from what we now have or know. But the reward of taking the risk to make a change is that things could also be better. If we don’t dare, we will never know.
Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves, do we want to be happy all the time or do we want to find the answers to the questions we ask ourselves. Reflect on what questions are you asking yourself. What is it that you want to find an answer to? What are you curious about?
I am asking myself is it possible to make business human. Is it possible to value the impact we have on an individual person more than simple profit maximization?
I don’t have all the answers. I actually have more questions than answers, but with HumanBusiness I am on a journey to find the answers.
Are there challenges? – Yes
Do I have to be outside my comfort zone often? – Absolutely
Is this all worth the struggle? – Yes, because I believe a better future is possible and I know why I am doing it.
That is actually the second reason why we are so resistant to change.
We simply don’t know why we should change anything. The pain we are experiencing is so small that we do not even recognize it. And maybe that is not even surprising, since only 5 % of our brain activity is conscious. The rest, 95 % is unconscious and automatic. This allows us to breathe and keeping our balance without thinking about it all the time. If we would think about all these things there would not be much space for other thoughts than trying to survive. Our unconsciousness takes in all the information around us through our senses.
That is why our intuition often already knows what the right thing to do is, but we are not really good at listening to our gut feeling or heart.
We feel like what would be the right thing to do. Our language already tells us that it is a feeling and not a rational thought coming from our mind. Our consciousness has not figured it our yet, since it is much slower.
Experiencing dramatic events…
How do we get aware of why we need to change then?
The first option is to experience a dramatic event or emotion. That is the moment when we are exposed to our intention or core beliefs through an external force.
In my work experience I was treated disrespectful, which made me feel disengaged. I was not getting paid, I had to sue my employer, I was fired during probation time and I was not even able to work on my strengths or state my opinion. All that made me feel so angry that I felt like I needed to change something. That is why I started HumanBusiness with the aim to increase the well-being of working people.
However, the aim should be to avoid this wake-up call in the first place. But if it has already happened, we can always ask why this happened to me to find some meaning in it.
Shortly after my suboptimal work experiences I was able to say that this was the best that could have happened to me, because now I can work on my own terms and create what I imagine. Which is fascinating, because when I was in that situation I wanted nothing else than to get out of that situation as quick as possible.
…or creating opportunities for personal growth
How to avoid a dramatic event in the first place then?
The second option of becoming aware of why we need to change is through our consciousness. The 5 % consciousness is actually enough to influence our unconsciousness. It would be a pretty scary thought to not have control over our own lives!
We can find our intrinsic motivation for why we do what we do through reflection, being mindful and repetitively asking why we do what we do. This might sound childish but that’s how the 5-why technique works.
I know this can be hard, because it could lead to the realization that what we do is not in line with our beliefs, which is why we avoid this whole process in the first place. But going down that path of fear to find the core source of our pain is actually the way out of our box, our comfort zone, our mental prison. We need to find the pain and push through it!
So, what is now the best way to take off a bandage? Slow or fast?
There is a behavioral economist called Dan Ariely who had the chance to find a scientific answer based on personal experience. He had an accident, where most of his skin was burned. So he had to stay in a hospital and was covered completely in bandage. The nurses had to change the bandage every day, which lasted about an hour and was painful procedure.
The nurse’s intuition, like ours, was to rip of the bandage as soon as possible. Dan always argued to take it of slower, because that would reduce his pain.
So when he was finally able to leave the hospital he made some experiments. What he found was that it is less painful to take the bandage of slowly. He also found that it is less painful to start at the head, which is quite sensitive to pain, and then move down the body to areas that are less sensitive to pain.
Testing our assumptions
What does that leave us with?
It shows that even our intuition can be wrong from time to time. Our perception is bound to what our socio-cultural environment provides us with, but we can make the conscious decision to test and challenge the status quo as well as our own intuition.
So in the end, we have to be willing to question everything we know!