There's No Future In Living In The Past

“I’ve got my faults, but living in the past isn’t one of them. There’s no future in it.”
Sparky Anderson, manager of the Detroit Tigers

If you want more of anything … greater productivity in your organization, higher morale in your department, better communication in your family, or more of anything else … you’ve got to make some changes. Period!

There is simply no way to get around this “fact of life.” You can’t do the same old thing the same old way and expect to see any improvements in your work or personal lives.

The good news is … positive, productive change is entirely possible if you follow a three-step process. It’s what I call the 3 R’s to success, which is a part of my program on “The Change Payoff.”

You must be willing to Take Risks, Ridicule, and Responsibility. Let’s look at those 3 R’s a bit more closely.

1. You must be willing to TAKE RISKS.

As author Bob Gass points out, “Too many of us stand on the dock waiting. We want the ship in place, the gangplank perfectly positioned, the weather right, and an engraved invitation before we’re willing to launch out. It will never happen! Dreams don’t move toward us; we have to move toward them.”

It’s time to quit waiting for perfection, inspiration, permission, and reassurance. It’s time to quit waiting for someone to change, the right person to come along, the kids to leave home, the new administration to take over, a clear set of instructions, or the pain to go away. It’s time to quit waiting for more self-confidence, an absence of risk, or someone to discover you.

You’ve got to take some risks … ANYWAY … if you want more of ANYTHING in your life.

And one of the best ways to reinforce your risk-taking ability is to change your thinking and speaking patterns. As cognitive behavioral therapist A. B. Curtiss says, “Exercise a muscle, it will become strong. Exercise a thought, it will become dominant.”

Try this.

* Instead of saying, “We’ve never done it before,” say, “We have the opportunity to be first.”
* Instead of saying, “We don’t have the resources,” say, “Necessity fuels invention.”
* Instead of saying, “There’s not enough time,” say, “We’ll change how we work.”
* Instead of saying, “We’ve already tried that,” say, “We learned from experience.”
* Instead of saying, “We don’t have the expertise,” say, “Let’s network with those who do.”
* Instead of saying, “Our vendors and customers won’t go for it,” say, “Let’s show them the opportunities.”
* Instead of saying, “We don’t have enough money,” say, “Maybe there’s something we can cut.”
* Instead of saying, “We’re understaffed,” say, “We’re a lean, hungry team.”
* Instead of saying, “It’ll never get any better,” say, “We’ll try one more time.”
* Instead of saying, “Let somebody else deal with it,” say “I’m ready to learn something new.”
* Instead of saying, “It’s not my job,” say, “I’ll be glad to take the responsibility.”

2. You must be willing to TAKE RIDICULE.

The greatest gap between successful people and unsuccessful people is often times nothing more than perspective. Successful people see failure as a regular part of success and they get over it. Unsuccessful people are so concerned about what other people might think or say if they should fail that they don’t even bother to try.

The people who succeed in the change process don’t worry about ridicule. They know, like football coach John Wooden knew so well, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

When Jonas Salk was developing the polio vaccine, he didn’t let possible failure and ridicule stop him. He took a very different perspective. He said, “As I look upon the experience of an experimentalist, everything that you do is, in a sense, succeeding. It’s telling you what not to do, as well as what to do. Not infrequently, I go into the laboratory and people would say something didn’t work. And I say, ‘Great, we’ve made a great discovery!’ If you thought it was going to work, and it didn’t work, that tells you as much as if it did.”

Salk continued, “So my attitude is not one of pitfalls; my attitude is one of challenges and ‘What is nature telling me?'”

Successful, changing people keep trying, learning, and moving forward. They win the battle in their minds, rather than let possible failure and ridicule scare them off.

3. You must be willing to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

You see … your capacity to change is not a function of capacity, but of choice.

In the old paradigm, there was the prevailing notion that your ability to change was predicated upon such factors as your socioeconomic status, education, age, race, and a host of other things outside your control. We now know that everyone (well, almost everyone) has the ability to change, because everyone is in complete control of one critical element in their lives — the decision to change.

To be effective in the change process, you’ve got to take responsibility. You’ve got to be like the snail that started climbing up the apple tree one cold day in February. As he inched his way upward, a worm stuck his head out of a crevice in the tree and said, “You’re wasting your energy. There isn’t a single apple up there.” The snail kept on climbing and replied, “No, but there will be by the time I get up there!”

Quite simply, there is a strong relationship between your movement toward your dreams and the resources you need becoming available to you.

Too often we want to see the resources or have them in hand, before we start moving forward. But change doesn’t work that way. Vision doesn’t follow resources; it happens the other way around.

First you have a dream, then you have to take responsibility and move forward. Then … and only then … do people and resources follow. As one wise person said, “Effort only releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.”

What do you want more of? What kind of changes do you need to make to get those things? Once you’ve figured that out, you must take risks, ridicule, and responsibility.

Action:  Of the 3 R’s, which one is the hardest for you to do? Decide right now what you are going to do about it.