Everyone seems to know the definition of insanity – doing the same things over and over expecting a different outcome. Most attribute the quote to Einstein but this is not correct. It started out in AA and NA circles, and was first published in 1983 in a book by Rita Mae Brown at least according to democraticunderground.com. But this is hardly the point. Whether Albert said it first or Rita Mae, based on the definition – we continue to do the same things over and over again expecting different outcomes. And then, when we are near to complete frustration or burnout, we say something like “I don’t know what to do again. I’ve been at this for too long and I’m tired. I give up!”
When was the last time you stopped – snapped yourself out of your trance to see that you’ve not tried numerous things but have basically done the same thing over and over again – expecting things to change? I’m not being critical and I don’t think you operate in a trance. What I feel is that sometimes we yearn to do things differently but are afraid to ‘change up’ the tried and true. Oftentimes this leaves us in a rut!
- Take how we lead and attempt to motivate employees for instance. Have you noticed that the carrot and stick approach just doesn’t work?
- Have you noticed that despite people saying that they want more money, when you give them opportunities to earn more (as one insurance company client of mine did a couple years ago, offering commission to ALL employees not just the sales associates for any new business they brought in) – they don’t JUMP at the opportunity?
- Have you noticed that despite all your communication training and useful tools for use in various situations that you’re still not having those crucial conversations that you need to have?
- Have you noticed how easily sales associates give up with great reasons as to why they can’t get the business? They blame the economy, the industry, the product, the product range, the price?
We need to stop looking at our situations as dire with no other solutions but the ONE thing that we’ve tried that is obviously NOT working. In his book ‘Choose Yourself’ author James Altucher describes his approach to life “My only hope for my future is I learn to dot the landscape of my life once more with question marks instead of periods; to turn judgments into queries, to turn “this” into “that” and to make every problem a maze.”
Stop with the absolutes – things will NEVER change, employees don’t care. Look instead to improve your approach and keep improving it until you get the outcome you want. You keep getting rejected from the client’s secretary; try to get the name of someone who can help you get the appointment. If that does not work, think of something else. And then think of something again. I’m not going to hand you 10 different approaches here. This is my point – we have lost the ability to use our idea muscle and instead have become lazy looking for someone else’s solution – the 5 ways to…, or 10 approaches to… – and when these don’t work we blame the author. We need to take responsibility. You send out emails and you get no response – sit and analyze if maybe it was the subject line that needed changing, maybe you need to sit with your idea a little longer and flesh it out since you’re not as clear as you thought you were.
Improve your authenticity. Stop playing manipulation games and ‘making as if’. You smell manipulation a mile away. Do you not think that others would smell it on you if you’re being less than genuine?
Learn to embrace failure as part of the process. You are sometimes going to be a one-hit wonder most times you’re not. The world is not being unfair. This is simply a fact of life. James says “The NORMAL thing is to be rejected by jobs, your kids, customers, friends, businesses, publishers etc.” Dashama, (the Anthony Robbins of yoga) says it best “a third will like you, a third will hate you, a third won’t care…no matter what you do”. Don’t let rejection stop you; keep reviewing your approach until you get the outcome you want.
Ask for help/ask for advice. We struggle with this one. We have to figure it all out, on our own. Conquer the beast and win the trophy single handedly! Sometimes a pair of eyes not deeply entrenched in our situation can provide valuable insight and direction. Tap into your network and get help.
Anthony Robbins always says that we become better when we ask better questions. If we ask “why does this always happen to me?” Our brain will give us enough reasons – none of which will help our present situation. Dan Waldschmidt, business strategist urges us to ask this question: “What’s the point?” Contemplate why you’re doing what you’re doing? What is the outcome you want? As you think about ways that you can ‘Change up’ instead of simply ‘Giving up’ think about these questions that I got from Dan:
- What’s the point of trying if you don’t try hard enough?
- What’s the point of listening if you don’t learn something?
- What’s the point of complaining about failure if you don’t try something different?
- What’s the point of getting knocked down if you don’t get back up?
- What’s the point of pretending you care when it’s clear you don’t?
- What’s the point of doing what’s easy if it doesn’t work over the long run?
- What’s the point of asking for good advice if you aren’t going to follow it?
- What’s the point of hoping to get lucky if you only work lazy?
- What’s the point of expecting a lot when you aren’t working a lot?
- What’s the point of pretending like you don’t make mistakes when you do?
- What’s the point of asking for a second chance when you won’t change?
- What’s the point of expecting fairness when life isn’t fair?
- What’s the point of looking tough when you’re not willing to do what’s tough?