CONFIRMED: Productive Change: Your survival depends on it

You may have gotten to a certain point in your career where you are experiencing a certain degree of success. And your organization may have captured a nice chunk of the marketplace. That’s great — but it’s not good enough.

There’s no such thing as a total lack of movement. You’re either moving forward or falling backward. So whatever brought you a measure of success will not be sufficient to keep you there.

As the great American philosopher and humorist, Will Rogers, put it, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

And Arie de Geus, the executive in charge of the Royal Dutch Shell’s Strategic Planning Group, noted, “The only sustainable competitive advantage will become the ability to learn (change) faster than one’s competition.”

The same truth applies to every aspect of your personal life. Your very survival depends on your willingness to change and your ability to make those changes productive.

These are a few things I recommend.

► 1. Convince yourself that change is necessary.

One of the greatest obstacles to your own happiness and success is your own self-talk. If you go around thinking or speaking curses, that’s what you’ll experience.

Cursed words include, “I’m getting by … It’s good enough … I’ll never get ahead … I’m just stuck here … and … If it’s not broken, why fix it?” Those comments will never propel you upward and forward. They curse you into staying at the level you’re already at.

Stop it! You’ve got to accept the truth… that all progress is the result of change. Change is necessary.

On one level, you already know that. You wouldn’t want to go to physicians who haven’t updated their techniques since the 1980’s. And you wouldn’t want to have a lawyer who hasn’t kept up with the law since the 1990’s.

On another level, it may have been some time since you updated yourself. After all, you update (change) your computer on a regular basis. When is the last time you updated (changed) yourself? I hope it was recently.

Debra Ward did so recently. She writes,

“I attended Dr. Zimmerman’s ‘Journey to the Extraordinary’ program a few months ago, and I wish I would have done so years ago. It changed how I think and what I do. It got me out of my comfort zone and into the habit of taking more constructive risks. The result? I just got a new job at twice my old salary. My eternal thanks to Dr. Zimmerman for the skills and inspiration he provided!”

► 2. Remind yourself that what brought you here won’t take you there.

I don’t know what your goals and dreams are. I don’t know where your “there” is. But your “there” demands that you change some things to get “there”.

For example, your courtship skills may have brought you to a marriage, but a healthy, lasting marriage takes more than romance skills. It takes communication, listening, forgiveness, and patience skills that you may need to learn.

Your entrepreneurial skills may have helped you start a business years ago based on good old-fashioned customer service. But in today’s global economy and internet commerce, where no one even knows your name or face, you’ll need lots of other skills to stay in business.

That’s why Cynthia Ann Broad, the Michigan Teacher of the Year, declares, “In times of change, it is the learners who will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.”

So ask yourself, “What skills do I need to learn so I can get to my big and better ‘there?’”

Without an answer to the question, you could end up being a dead mouse.

Researchers placed four tubes on the floor, side by side, with a hunk of cheese placed in the second tube. They then released a mouse to see what he would do.

The mouse scurried through the first tube and discovered it was empty. He quickly went to the second tube, found the cheese, ate it, and went back to his cage.

The next day, the researchers did the same thing, and so did the mouse. It wasn’t too long before the mouse was conditioned. He knew there was no cheese in the first tube, so he went directly to the second tube to get his reward.

After several days, the scientists moved the cheese from the second tube to the third one. The mouse was released, and, of course, he went directly to the second tube. It was empty.

What do you think the mouse did? Did he go to the third tube, searching for the cheese? No. Did he go back to the first tube or on to the fourth one? No. He stayed in the second tube, waiting for the cheese to appear.

He had become accustomed to finding cheese in the second tube and when that changed, he did not adjust. He did not explore any further. He didn’t make any changes in his behavior. If the scientists had allowed it, the poor mouse would have starved to death.

What about you? Are you waiting for things to go back to the way they used to be? Or are you making the changes you need to make to get to your new “there?”

You can start by listing out ten changes you need to make … that would be good for you personally and professionally. Rank order them from 1 to 10, with 1 being the easiest change to make and 10 the hardest. Start making those changes, starting at 1 and working your way up the list.

Final Thought: You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.