Most of us work really hard to avoid conflict.

Call it human nature, or a survivalist mentality. When conflict comes, we don't want to get burned by the fire so we duck and cover--just like we were taught in school.

Yet, what I've learned recently about conflict is that it is also a sign of positive change. The surprise is that this head-butting and contrarian vibe in the workplace is exactly what you want if you are trying something brand new. It's a sign of success and progress.

Here's why from a scientific perspective.

As humans, we're predisposed to doing things the same way. Our brains are literally wired to keep the same pathways, to maintain order and control. We resist both personal and organizational change. A habit is essentially a way to stick your feet in the sand and refuse to adapt as an act of survival. Of course, I have an example from my own life.

Last year, I decided to form a new habit related to my diet. Most of the research on this topic suggests that your body will always try to get back to your heaviest weight, so I knew the odds were stacked against me. It turns out we like to keep things the same and resist anything new. It's best to keep things comfortable, easy, and well-known.

That meant I had to fight my own body, eventually losing about 30 pounds by sheer willpower (and with the help of a dieting consultant). Each morning, stepping on the scale was an act of defiance against my own body. At times, my body won the battle but I kept fighting the war. All along, it felt like a conflict of wills.

Importantly, that resistance to conflict and change is often the one thing that can destroy a company or any institution. I've seen this many times. What creates an under-performing company? What kills innovation? What destroys revenue? Often, it's when the employees stick to what has always worked instead of embracing progress.

Disruption is positive change meant to encourage new growth. Yet, we resist change because we're always trying to get back to the way things were before, e.g., our heaviest body weight. What is blocking us? It's fear. Fear of the unknown and the unexpected.

We fear what will happen to us from a scientific standpoint. Maybe we will fail at a new task, or we'll discover that a new marketing endeavor doesn't quite work. We fear the future version of ourselves will be worse off. We like to control the outcome, so we stick to the outcome that's familiar, and we resist trying anything new.

Yet, disruption always creates conflict. The masses will revolt against a new collaborative team app like Slack that will actually foster better communication. (Ironically, I've even seen resistance in teams recently when a company tried to move from one collaborative app to another.) Or maybe it's this: The sales team is ready to get out the pitchforks and stampede to the town center when there's a new step in the sales process that will create a smoother workflow. We like to keep the same neural pathways.

I'm not saying anyone should create random and unexpected conflict as a way to foster growth. There is disruption meant for growth and disruption that arises because someone in a leadership role has no clue about what to do and keeps trying new things that fail miserably. That always hurts morale. Good disruption creates healthy conflict--this is new but better, so it will eventually make the company (and everyone involved) better. Bad disruption creates unhealthy conflict--employees have a right to revolt.

The challenge is knowing the difference, and then leading through that adversity. You have to expect some push-back and resistance. In fact, if you don't feel resistance to healthy disruption in the workplace, you might not be disrupting the normal workflow enough. It might be time to figure out how to be even more disruptive.