Change Things UP
You have no doubt heard the infamous definition of insanity:
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Leaders, being human, are prone to falling into the complacency trap. We have no qualms about doing whatever it takes to make the dream happen, whether it’s working long hours, wearing many hats, or extending our resources – or ourselves – to help others realize the vision that we’ve striven so hard for.
The once the goal is met, we settle into a comfort zone of routine and complacency to keep and protect all that hard work from disappearing.
Routines, while good for structure in many settings, are horrible when is comes to goals, vision, people development, and systems.
Which is why great leaders work to Change Things UP on a regular basis.
Here are some examples of leaders who changed things UP to stay on their game:
- Sam Walton would often visit competing department stores and other retailers to find what they did right and implement a better way of doing it at Wal-Mart.
- Walt Disney would always build, build, and build, never looking back on his laurels.
- Steve Jobs would place innovation ahead of cost cutting to keep Apple at the forefront and generate large revenues.
- BASF’s leadership for decades has developed a culture of “We make a lot of the products you buy better”. This mission statement serves to keep them looking at creative solutions.
Effective leaders have found ways to do things differently in both their personal and professional lives to keep sharp and stay relevant. The examples above have impacted all of our worlds, so here are some strategies you can use to change things UP in your world:
- Call a different person weekly to expand your network, encourage or even mentor others
- Drive an alternate route home or walk a different path to various places of work to see the landscape of your home or your work in a new light
- Have a different individual set the agenda and facilitate your weekly meetings
- Try those things you fear the most and build some confidence in your skills and experiences
- Hold meetings in other people’s offices instead of your own
- Determine for a week to not tell others what to do, but ask them what they think should be done
- Besides planning to start your day, take a few minutes at the end of your day to review how well you did (see “What’s Your Plus-Minus”)
Here’s another bit of advice: Do some small, seemingly insignificant changes regularly in your life to remind you to change things up every now and then. Again, in needing to combat complacency, we need to be prodded from time to time. My favorite was my former department director, Jurgen, who switched which wrist he wore his watch on every two weeks. This reminded him to look at things from a different viewpoint and to not get stuck in routines that kill innovation and momentum.
Change things UP as part of your leadership repertoire. Stay ahead of the curve. Stay ahead of yourself.