I am that thing you wanted to do, but for some reason you have failed to realize my significance.
I can be your best friend when you need me the most, but I can also be the thorn when you want me the least.
If you aren’t implementing me in your life it can be hard for you to thrive, however there are times when I show up and you may just want to die.
I am necessary for you to realize your potential.
What am I?
I am Change. I am disruption. I am the opposite of status quo.
In 1879, Procter and Gamble’s best-selling item was candles. But the company was in trouble. Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb, which meant it looked as if candles would become obsolete. Their fears became reality when the market for candles plummeted since they were now primarily used on special occasions or as gifts.
The outlook appeared to be bleak for Procter and Gamble during this time. However, it seemed that destiny played a dramatic part in pulling the struggling company from the clutches of bankruptcy. A clumsy employee at a small factory in Cincinnati forgot to turn off his machine when he went to lunch one day. And the result? A frothing mass of lather filled with air bubbles. He almost threw the stuff away but instead decided to make it into soap. The soap floated. Thus, Ivory soap was born and became the mainstay of the Procter and Gamble Company.
Why was soap that floats such a hot item at that time? In Cincinnati, during that period, some people bathed in the Ohio River. Yes the river. So floating soap would never sink and consequently never got lost. Ivory soap became a best seller in Ohio and eventually across the country.
Like Procter and Gamble, never give up when things go wrong and always be willing to change.
Proctor and Gamble’s story is a successful story. The only issue with it is that they were forced to change by the circumstances they found themselves in. Most people don’t make changes until they are forced to change.
Here are some of the reasons we fail to change.
- Our pain is not painful enough: Yep that is right. What if you went to your local burger joint right now and ordered the triple bacon, three-cheese, double quarter pound hamburger with the extra super large fries, and the gallon of your favorite soft drink. After you scarfed all of that down you immediately started feeling sick and your chest started to hurt and you passed out. And when you woke up you were in the emergency room with doctors and nurses over top of you. You asked them “What is going on” and they told you that you were having a heart attack.This scenario usually doesn’t happen does it? Nope, but if you do it everyday for many years it could happen. Sure there might be other factors that play into it happening, but if this scenario played out every single time you had that food you wouldn’t eat that meal anymore. Nobody wants to experience that pain and all of the other troubles that goes along with it.The point is this.
We don’t make changes because we don’t realize at the time the consequences of not changing. There is no pain associated with our lack of change. Instead, it takes a cumulation of neglect to ultimately force us to change. Very seldom can one thing force us to make the change we need to make. It is usually a cumulation of issues.
- The decision is not enough: I can remember a few years ago when I was working for a company. I was at the executive level, but most of the decisions were made by the owners. I had influence, but only one person made all of the decisions.We were having a meeting one morning on something. And the owner said “Brian, we have decided to do this.” He was very proud and excited about his decision.He then tells me how quickly they are (he is) at making decisions. I looked at him and said, “It’s great that you made that decision and I am glad you did. However, you are good at making decisions, matter of fact you make decisions all of the time. But you suck at managing the decisions.”He was obviously taken aback by my statements.
This is like most people though. You make a decision to do something and you are proud that you have decided to do this or that. You even will tell other people about your decision. You put it on Facebook. Then you don’t do anything to manage the decision you made.
The real work begins after you make a decision. The actions that you put into your life or business to manage the decisions is where the real work begins. The decision to do something is just the start. Managing the decision is where it happens.
- Your delusional: For a period of time I worked in college admissions working with high school seniors and non-traditional students and getting them enrolled in to college. These two classifications of the different students that I worked with are important, because they both have different delusions.Lets start with the high school student: I can remember when I graduated high school, I was a mess and didn’t have a clue on what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be, and I think that many high school seniors feel that way upon graduation. But one of the biggest delusions that I heard over and over when I was working with the college and high school seniors was this:”I am going to delay college so I can earn some money, and then attend college.”
Time after time, I would see those students not start school right after high school and come back in the admissions office the next semester. I would ask them how much money they saved. And the answers were always zero.
Hey, I get it, if you aren’t ready for school, don’t go. It is too expensive of a mistake to make. These kids were serious about school and they were serious about thinking they would save money, they weren’t just telling me that.
The reason, I share this story is to make the point. Don’t be delusional about change. The time is never right to do something that is difficult and necessary. Most people are delusional in thinking something will change at some point in the future that will make the situation easier to change. As Albert Einstein famously said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
- The need goes away: Things get better in the short run, but the problem is there. In the same position with the college I worked with adult students. These students usually had full-time jobs, a spouse, children, and the other busyness that can come with being an adult. They would come in to the college gung-ho about going back to school to finish their degree, or to start a degree.Many of them would be there for a couple of the same reasons. The reasons were usually that their boss was a jerk, and they felt like they were more qualified to be the boss and they needed the degree to get their bosses job. Another reason was they may have missed a couple of rounds of layoffs and felt that they would have more security with a degree. There were other reasons as well. Over the years I had countless numbers of students give me these same reasons.They came in with these concerns, but before they got started in school or while attending school, something would happen and they would now feel more security either to not start school or drop out of school before finishing. Their concerns were alleviated for now, but the problems didn’t go away. They still didn’t have their education.
This is what happens to most people. They feel the pain, but then the pain goes away temporarily, but even though the pain goes away, the problem is still there. It just isn’t on the surface right now. It will eventually resurface itself, it always does.
- We wait to be told: Most of the change that I have taken in my life was started because I wanted to make the change. It was on my own accord that I saw that for me to get where I wanted to go and to be where I wanted to be, I had to change what I was doing. However, most people stay committed to whatever it is that they are doing, thinking that they will be fine and will be able to do things the same way forever.I am reminded of a quote by Bill Gates founder of Microsoft. He said “We come to work every single day to work on products to put ourselves out of business.” Meaning we work to create products that will outsell our current products. He says “If we don’t work to put ourselves out of business, someone else will. There is always someone out there, some company, that is working to do it. So we have to do it first.”
I can remember when I worked for a company years ago. About two years into my tenure there was a major shift in leadership. The new leadership team was committed to changing the direction of the company and was focused on making a lot of changes. Things such as new processes, new accountability metrics, new technology, etc.My colleague and I had both been there about the same amount of time. I was excited about all of the new changes, I embraced it, and I actually used the changes to find a place where I could grab a project that I was able to call my own that helped push the new leaderships team vision forward.
My colleague on the other hand, was the opposite. They went against everything that the new leadership team was wanting to do. They actually went as far as trying to block some of it by sabotaging it.
In this situation we both had a choice to make. We could get on board, or think if we pushed back something would actually change the new direction we were heading. I embraced the change and thrived, and he did not and was ultimately let go. He thought if he pushed back that the change wouldn’t impact him. That is not the case. Change before you have to.
The point here is clear I hope. Unless you are king of the world, the chances are you will eventually have to change. My advice is to change before you have to, because if you wait until you are forced it is too late. You either lose your market share or you may lose your job.
It is probably cliché anymore to try to sell someone on the fact that the need to change. It is talked about so much that most of us know we have to change. As pointed out, we know some of the reasons we should change, but how do we do it?
Cold turkey: Maybe this is a southern thing. We use the term “quitting cold turkey”. I looked up this saying to see where it came from, and I am more confused than I am knowing where it came from.
Quitting cold turkey simply means stopping whatever it is you are doing immediately. You don’t think about doing whatever it is you want to stop doing anymore, you just quit it now. Quitting things cold turkey is probably one of the hardest things to do, because it requires the most discipline. And depending on what it is you are changing, immediately stopping it is very hard because your body is conditioned to want it.
For example: I know a lot of people who have quit smoking. Cigarettes have something called nicotine in it that people become addicted to. Their body relies on it and needs it, especially if you have had the habit of smoking for a long time. Quitting smoking really impacts the mind and the body pretty significantly, because you are depriving the body of something that it wants and has gotten used to.
Quitting something cold turkey is very difficult. Most people aren’t willing to make that type of commitment unless forced to do so. What happens is many people try to “smoke less” thinking they will eventually wean themselves off of smoking altogether. I have found that this rarely works.
Making changes “Cold turkey” is the hardest, but I honestly believe it is the best way. Either you fully commit to whatever change you want to make or you don’t. There are no such things as half commitments, that doesn’t even sound right does it.
Incrementally: I am in sales, well, we all are in sales whether we realize it or not. Much of my time has been spent managing sales people over the years. Like most sales managers do, they are constantly telling their sales staff that if they want to make more sales they have to make more outbound phone calls to potential clients. Many sales managers get into the habit of managing activities, i.e. phone calls. I was guilty of this early on in my career as a sales manager as well.
I had this ah ha moment one day when conducting a coaching meeting with one of my sales representatives. I was asking them what they needed to do to be more successful. Like always, they said they needed to make more outbound phone calls. This particular sales rep was making about 20 phone calls a week. They told me that they were going to start making 200 outbound phone calls now. I looked at them and said that is impossible. You are not going to go from 20 to 200. It is just not part of who you are. You can’t make that significant of a change. I said lets shoot for 25-30.
The point here is we all think we can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of days or weeks, and this just isn’t the case. Most of the changes we are looking to make in our life and in our business require more time than that. Our behaviors are not wired that way either. We can’t just immediately change over night or in a week. We have to focus on making incremental changes at times to ultimately make the entire change we are seeking to make.
What changes are you looking to make. What incremental changes can you make right now or today that can get you going down the right path to achieve your ultimate goal? Remember, trying to change everything can sometimes do more harm than good focus on measurable progress.
Focus on loss: Humans are hardwired to be more focused on what could be lost versus what they will gain. Over the years I have been in a position to give lots of people career advice. I am the person that people turn to when they are looking at pursuing a new job or a new profession and they ask me for my opinion.
In most of these conversations I have had over the years, what we spent the majority of the time talking about is the comparisons between the two jobs.
For example: The person asking for advice would say: In my current job I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule. If I have a doctor’s appointment or a child care issue, I have some flexibility in handling that. I don’t want to lose that. Or they might say. I am guaranteed a x % raise every single year. I know what I have to do to get it. At this new company I might now have the same opportunities.
Now in these scenarios described above, there is obviously more to making a career change or job change. From my experience most of my conversations have always centered around what they might lose, versus what they might gain.
This fear of loss versus excitement of gain is something that is ingrained in humans DNA. They say it goes as far back as cavemen days. We were hardwired to be more worried about what we could do and have today, versus what we could do and have tomorrow. We wouldn’t give up anything today, food, shelter, etc., that we knew we already had in our possession to go after more and better for tomorrow when it was uncertain if we could actually get it.
Loss aversion is more motivating than what we could gain. So how do we use this loss aversion mindset that is ingrained in us to make changes? Easy.
What are you losing or you could you lose if you don’t change? If you don’t stop smoking you may lose your life or your health. Which means you won’t see your children grow up or your grandchildren born. If you don’t change your attitudes at work, you could lose your job, which means you won’t be able to take your children to Disney World. If you don’t change your money habits and save more, you could lose your house.
When you start thinking about your losses in this way, you might just become more motivated to make the changes necessary.
Do something that scares you: I think we have discussed and proven that change is hard. Making changes cold turkey and incrementally are some ways to make change. Then there is just jumping and doing something that scares you.
It has been proven and most people would agree that two of the biggest fears of most people, are the fear of death and the fear of public speaking. I would add a third to that. The fear of singing in public. I would say that singing in public could be number one.
Years ago when I was becoming a trainer and speaker, I was always nervous about speaking. Then I took this course that required us to actually sing. My goal was to ultimately teach and train this particular course, which would require me to sing every single time I taught the course. I was frightened. Like most people I felt like my voice was horrible. And you know what people confirmed that over and over to me when I would sing. But I learned to not care. I actually became a singer, kind of.
What I did to get over this fear of singing in public is, I just did it. I went to karaoke bars, I went to a friend’s house who had a karaoke bar in his house. I jumped all in and took the opportunity to sing whenever I could. I just took it all on head on.
What happened by doing something that scared me and taking it head on, is I became less anxious or nervous about it. I have now sung in public enough that I don’t even think about it anymore.
To make necessary changes in our life we sometimes just have to jump all in and not think about it. When I am at karaoke bar now I just get up and put in a few of the songs I know I can sing (decently) and I just do it. I have a blast when I am doing it now, I enjoy it for what it is.
Find a coach: We have discussed change pretty exhaustively now haven’t we? We know why we want to change, and how we want to change, and I have provided a few ways for you to make the changes. My hope is that you do some of these things on your own. However, there comes a point where no matter what you do and how you do it, you just can’t make the necessary changes you want to make. And guess what? That is okay.
We all need some coaching in life. A good coach can set down with you and help you determine what needs and changes you desire to make. They also can assess your commitment level to these changes and needs. They can then provide you tools, and most importantly, accountability to make sure you do what is required to make the changes you seek to make.
A few years ago, I was seeking to get better in my delivery of training and speaking. When you are training and speaking to an audience you can’t ask them how you did speaking fluently, or how was my grammar, how was my pronunciation, things such as this. The audience is not looking to critique you on those things, even though they are.
I knew that I could be better in these areas, so I hired a coach to come in and listen to me and give me feedback on these things I wanted feedback on. That is what I coach can do. They are there to help you see your blind spots. Things you may not be aware of and once you become aware of them you can now start to change them.
The best thing I have ever done is hire coaches in all facets of my life. In my health and fitness, my dieting, my speaking, my training, my writing, etc. We all need some coaching all of the time. It is how we all get better and reach and realize our full potential.
Let me ask you a question. What is it that you need to change? What is it that you have been wanting to accomplish but just haven’t done so yet. What behaviors are preventing you from getting you to the promotion you want? What money habits do you have that is preventing you from buying a house or your first rental property? What is that is holding you back from realizing your full potential?
Change is hard, Change is rewarding, Change is necessary, Change is awesome, Change is scary, Change is required. My belief is that you are where you are, because your decisions and your habits have gotten you there. But I also believe that none of us have to stay where we are, IF, we want to go somewhere else. If you want to go to a different place and have different results, then take change head on.
To your success and your future.