“If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you have always gotten.”
This quote is variously attributed to the self-improvement guru, Tony Robbins, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Mark Twain, and perhaps others. The fact that it is so often quoted points not to its truth but to its implication – we struggle to make the changes necessary to get what we want.
If you want different results, you have to act differently.
I can’t seem to find anyone who disagrees with this statement, but I also don’t know many people who consistently apply it. Every day I talk with smart professionals who want different outcomes but are unwilling to make the changes necessary to get them. They think others should do the changing, that their organizations should work differently, and that the world around them should align with their model. They may be right. Others should change, perhaps the organization should work differently, and the world should be a more rational place. Sometimes it is more important to right than successful – but most often, it isn’t. “Should” shouldn’t matter. If you want a different outcome, YOU have to change.
To act differently, you have to think differently.
Our brain always engages before we act though we are not always aware of the process. Part of the challenge of acting differently is uncovering the current thinking that drives our behavior. For example, you come home from a hard day at work and your spouse yells at you for forgetting the milk. You yell back and a shouting match ensues. Your response might feel good, but did you get what you want? Probably not. Moreover – you still need the milk! Your reaction was based on a thinking paradigm that says, when someone yells at me, yell back. So what if you changed to model to, when someone yells at me, I lower my voice and ask why they are displaying anger instead of trying to solve the problem. Different thinking = different action = different outcome.
To think differently, you have to think about thinking.
What do I mean by “think about thinking?” I mean to take a step back and think about how you arrive at your beliefs and decisions. To critically examine your thinking paradigms and models about how the world around you works. To clarify what you believe and challenge those beliefs. To go a level deeper to understand why you believe what you believe. I have found this exercise to be both immensely challenging and immensely enlightening. It is often humbling as I uncover long held beliefs that are actually false and models that, while logically correct, are clearly ineffective.
The bottom line:_______________________________________________________________________________________________
The bottom line here is that if you do what you have always done, and get what you have always gotten, and what you have always gotten is not what you want – you must do something different. To do that, you need to think about why you are doing what you have always done and that often leads to challenging the very things you believe in. Nobody said change is easy.