Change Is Pain for the Brain

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 3.50.19 PMWe’re all for change…as long as we don’t have to change. While people are all for the idea of change, it’s the actual change part that we have issues with.

Now, there’s scientific explanation as to why that is.

John Medina has been studying how the brain works. In his book, “Brain Rules” he tells us that when people are hooked up to machines to record how the brain is functioning, a change event looks identical to a pain event. As far as the brain is concerned, change is pain for the brain.

That’s why every smoker knows that smoking is bad for them. But they have a difficult time quitting because change is pain for the brain.

I know that I need to lose about 25 pounds. And yet those 25 pounds are so difficult to lose because I like food. Change is pain for the brain.

What is true for individuals is also true for institutions and churches. Whenever change is necessary for the church, it is imperative that leaders understand that what they are doing is creating a pain event. That’s why churches and institutions know they need to change but have such difficulty actually changing.

The only way people change is when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.

When leading change, it is absolutely vital that leaders advocate for and articulate not only for the change, but why staying the same is unacceptable and undesirable. In fact, a leader will have to convince folks staying the same would be even more painful than changing.

Change can happen, but if you are leading change, remember this simple rule: change is pain for the brain. Articulate both why the change is necessary, why staying the same is unacceptable, and why staying the same would be way more painful than changing.


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