I was struck last week when I saw a colleague pecking away, very quickly, with two fingers on his computer keyboard. I asked him about it and he told me that he had recently taken a course where he had learned to touch type. The course had been very good and he had learned to type at 30 words pre minute. But with his two finger pecking he typed at 60 words pre minute.
His plan was to continue to practice his touch typing, until it was fast enough to switch over. Of course if he switched over now, he would be touch typing even faster, sooner, but at the cost of the learning curve frustration.
This little story is true of so much in life. We stick with a legacy system, relationship or habit, purely because of the energetic cost of changing. Because the discomfort of letting go of our confidence and rebuilding is hard.
I am experiencing the same thing with learning Spanish. I have become accustomed to being able to express myself well in English. Letting go of that to practice Spanish is challenging and yet not doing so makes learning Spanish harder and slower.
We all hold onto behaviours when we know clearly better options exist at all levels of life, personally, organizationally and societally.
It is this reluctance to keep moving, to intentionally let go of what was once functional, but is no longer, that makes it so difficult for the leaders from one era to hold onto their leadership in the next.
Will Nokia be able to regain it’s lead in the smartphone era? Will Microsoft be able to dominate mobile operating systems. Will oil companies continue to the main suppliers of transport energy in the post fossil fuels era?
Alongside this, there is also much that does not need to change, older ways, wisdom and things have value too. And, new is certainly not always better. The point is to effectively and continuously evaluate, to make deliberate and active choices, rather than passive ones, (As Steve Jobs said – Get rid of the crappy stuff.) and to be prepared to invest when something better comes along.
This is so important – that I just one to list it out as a process:
1 – Clarify objectives
2 – Continuously evaluate processes, behaviours and equipment against the value they bring to the objectives.
3 – Make deliberate and active choices – not just passive ones.
4 – Be prepared to invest time and money when better and more valuable alternatives are available.
The other part of this is that we need to take responsibility for this process ourselves. As soon as we notice that there are elements in our work or our life that are not adding the value that we would like them to, we need to step up and do something about it.
Whenever we hear ourselves (or others) whinging about anything the question to ask is “What am I (are you) going to do about it?”
Again this has to be at all scales, from our personal relationships, to our work, to the whole of society. If we feel our relationship is not working for us, if we feel our boss treats us badly or if we think that our governments is failing to deal with the challenges we face, or whatever, don’t whinge do!
The first step for creating change is to find your first follower or find someone to follow, if you cannot find either, the chances are you are on your own, and you might want to reconsider your objectives. If you can find someone – make a plan and get going, look for strategies that require a minimum of permission to start with, so that you don’t get blocked early on. You can deal with bigger challenges later, when you have more support.
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