Forward to Normal

I sure have heard from lots of people who are waiting and hoping for things to get back to normal.

While I understand that sentiment there are two mistakes being made when we express it.

The first mistake is waiting. DON’T wait! If you’re waiting for what was normal to return I’m afraid you’re going to have a heck of a long wait. Some people and organizations will emerge from the current situation with the potential to be more successful than they were before. They are not going to create that success by waiting.

They are actively evaluating the events swirling around them to determine what they can control and exactly how they can control it. The key word in the previous sentence is “actively.” They are not ruminating over what is. They are creating what will be whenever “what is” is over.

Don’t wait, begin this very moment to determine your exit strategy from this pandemic. Determine what you do right now. Determine what you’ll do when the world reopens for business and how you will maintain that momentum when things start to feel a little more normal.

Speaking of normal…why would anyone want to go “back” to normal? You will not find your future success behind you. It is simply a waste of time and effort hoping for normal to return. It’s not coming back!

I have no better idea than anyone else what “normal” is going to look like a year from now. But I’d bet your next paycheck that it is not going to look like last year’s normal.

Instead of hoping to get “back to normal” you need to be looking forward to normal.

Normal will be different than normal used to be. We can’t fully go back to what was and that’s okay. Abraham Lincoln said “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” We have an incredible opportunity right now to create the next bit of our future. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by!

I know we all love normal. I’m not a bigger fan of change than anyone else but this much I know for sure….things are going to change. They only question we have to answer is this: Is change going to happen to you or is change going to happen because of you?

If I have to be on the change bus I’d much rather be driving. There are plenty of steering wheels to go around, will you join me in determining the future direction on your life?

Don’t Run From Change

You, like everyone else, prefers to do what you’ve done before. You, like me and everyone else, well, pretty much everyone else, likes doing what you are comfortable doing. You know what works and what the heck, why reinvent the wheel. After all, if it ain’t broke why fix it.

 

I can’t say for sure but I doubt if that “if it ain’t broke” philosophy ever really helped anyone excel. Eventually somebody comes along and breaks what’s been working fine for you. I mean what exactly was wrong with cassette tapes and VHS recorders? They worked and more importantly than that, I knew how to work them. 

 

But along comes somebody who makes them obsolete by inventing these little plastic coaster looking things that held a lot more music and video. And now those are gone too. My CD player was working  fine when I threw it out, so was my turntable for that matter.

 

What is wrong with people who can’t leave well enough alone? Well nothing is wrong with them because if not for them I’d be writing this on a typewrite. If not for them, you wouldn’t be reading it.

 

It’s normal for people to resist change. I could write pages on the psychological reasons for that but each of us has our own personal reasons for resisting change too. Those frequently trump even logical reasons for accepting the change.

 

As normal as it is to dislike and even fight change it is also often self-destructive. We fight in order to maintain control because we make the mistake of thinking that with control comes safety. 

 

If that was ever true it certainly isn’t true anymore. 

 

Consider the dilemma of the antelope. When lions hunt antelopes, the pride’s dominant male stays where he is. The female lions — the real hunters, swifter than the male — sneak around to the far side of the herd, fan out in a wide semi-circle, and lie down in the grass. The dominant male, bigger but slower, really incapable of catching the antelope by himself, takes on the job of suddenly leaping up and roaring at the antelope. He’s good at it. The antelope bolt from him — and run straight into the trap laid by the waiting females.

 

For the antelope, safety would lie in running toward the roar. Safety comes from deliberately picking out the thing that is most terrifying, and moving toward the source of the fear. No antelope has ever been known to do that. Very few people can either — but people are the only ones who can learn to deal with the change that they fear.

 

So what about you? What do you fear the most? What conversation do you dread the most? Who in your business or family do you not get along with? Who can you not bring yourself to forgive? What change have you wasted precious time and energy on fighting? 

 

Whether you know it or not, they will be your most powerful teachers of change. Moving forward, toward the fear is the safest and most productive thing you can do. 

 

I’m certain there would be more antelopes in the world if they could move toward that threatening lion. I’m sure there would be more successful people in the world if they invested their energy to seek out their difficult, scary situations so they could work through them. 

 

I feel the need to admit here that I have frequently run from the lion myself. With that admission I can also say that whenever I found the courage to run toward the lion it worked out pretty well. 


Will 2019 be the year you face your lions? Will you run at them? Run past them, over them or through them? You can do it, you absolutely can do it, the only question is… will you?

Are you in Control of Your Life?

Think back to last January. Remember the resolutions you made? Maybe you decided to skip the almost always worthless resolutions and you set meaningful goals.

 

What has changed as a result of those resolutions or goals? More to the point, what have YOU changed. What are you doing differently this year?

 

I ask that because nothing in your life will actually change until you do. 

 

If you want change in your life then you should know that true, long-lasting change is more likely to come from what you stop doing. Most people seek change by trying something new but the change doesn’t stick because they failed to stop doing something else. Real change most often happens when you stop doing something that you do everyday, or nearly everyday. 

 

Would you like to have more control over your life? Then don‘t burn the first 15-30 minutes (or longer) of your day on social media. Invest that time instead in planning your day. Social Media might be of benefit to you but planning your day will be a benefit to you. Maybe for you it’s not social media that becomes a time suck. Whatever it is that mindlessly wastes your time you should understand that mindfully planning your day will provide you with more control over your life. 

 

How much have you complained this year? Here’s an even more important question. How much have you complained this year about the things in your life that you have complete control over? 

 

Don’t complain, change. Take control of those controllable parts of your life and make a plan that leads to positive change. Nothing changes by itself. All change comes about as a result of somebody doing something differently. If the change you seek pertains to your life then you must be that somebody. 

 

Here’s one final question for you. Do you want to drive the change that affects your life or do you want your life to be driven by change?


If you want to be in control of your life then take charge of change before it takes charge of you! 

The Benefit of Living an Uncomfortable Life

A while back I was managing a program and someone asked me about a decision I had made. I responded that I was comfortable with what I had decided. I also said I was comfortable with the thousands of other decisions I had made for the program too. 

 

I’d say less than a minute later I realized how arrogant that sounded. It also wasn’t exactly true since I work hard at being intentionally uncomfortable. 

 

One of the biggest obstacles on many people’s journey to success is comfort. The split second you are comfortable with where you’re at you’re not there anymore. The moment you’re comfortable with all of your decisions is the same moment your decisions become less effective. In the instant you become comfortable doing something your pursuit of doing it better stops.

 

If I could give anyone advice to help them be consistently successful I’d tell them to live as uncomfortably as they can stand. Actually it would be to live a little more uncomfortably than they can stand. 

 

The world is ever changing. The marketplace for every business is morphing in ways unthinkable a couple of years ago. Being comfortable, for even a day or two means risking being left so far behind that you may never catch up.  

 

Comfort is an expense that no organization can afford. If your goals include growing or even if your goals are merely to survive the next five years then you must embrace discomfort now. Virtually nothing works the way it did even a few years ago and it’s likely that what works this year won’t work next year.

 

As a leader you must push yourself to uncomfortable places. You must help your people get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You must ensure that they are uncomfortable with the mere thought of comfort. 

 

Uncomfortable people grow, uncomfortable organizations succeed and their success is lasting. Comfortable people are vulnerable and so are comfortable organizations. They are vulnerable to extinction.

 

If you’re comfortable saying things like “we’ve always done it that way” then I hope you’re really comfortable because those may be the final words ever spoken on behalf of your once successful organization. 

 

The benefit of living an uncomfortable life is surviving and even thriving in a world that uses old ideas only as a measuring stick against new ones. 


It’s fine to relax so go ahead and uncomfortably relax because uncomfortable is the new comfortable. At least it is for those people and organizations that hope to still be successful in the months and years ahead.

Old Advice

Someone asked me a few day ago how I write this blog, they wondered if I had a bunch of posts “in progress” that were partially written that I selected from when I needed a post and had no fresh ideas.

 

Well, that’s is sometimes the case. I most often write early in the morning and once I start a post I usually finish it in one sitting. Sometimes I write when something makes me mad, those posts are often left unfinished and are seldom published. (I know there are lots of people who would like to see those posts but I don’t think so, perhaps I’ll save those for the book I might never write)

 

This particular post is one of those “mad” posts but I’m most certainly going to finish it and I’m definitely going to publish it… I owe it to the limited thinkers who made me mad in the first place. So here we go…

 

Ordinarily I’d say doing something a particular way just because it’s always been done that way is a terrible reason for doing it. Continually repeating a process “just because” indicates lazy thinking and can result in inferior results. I frequently tell people that just because something isn’t broke doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. 

 

The most successful people are always on the lookout for a better way of doing most everything. 

 

But every once in a while there isn’t a better way. Doing something the same way over a long period of time turns out to be the best way to do it. If you’ve seriously considered alternatives to the way you’re doing something today and found those alternatives to be lacking then don’t be afraid to stick with the status quo. But don’t quit looking either.

 

As leery as I am when I hear someone say “we’ve always done it way” I’m just as troubled when I hear someone say “we’re changing because it just seems like it’s time for a change.”

 

We’re changing because it’s time for a change is a horrible reason to change. You might just as well buy lottery tickets because your chances for success are about the same. Change for the sake of change indicates the same lazy level of thinking as “we’ve always done it that way.” 

 

You have no idea if the change is in the right direction, you’ve likely invested very little time in considering why it is being done the way it is and even less time considering the consequences and expense associated with the change. If the change works out you just got lucky and if you’re counting on luck then don’t count on much success.

 

Which brings me to the reason for this post. In trying to help someone understand why something was done the way it was done it was hinted to me that my “old advice” was of no use anymore. 

 

The person seemed to indicate that experience was in fact a handicap and advice stemming from experience should be discounted or just outright ignored. 

 

Wisdom doesn’t always come with experience; sometimes experience just shows up alone…. but not very often. Failing to use another person’s experience is an unforced error. It’s costly, it slows down progress and it’s just not very smart. Smart people learn from their mistakes, the smartest people learn from the mistakes of others.


If you choose to ignore the experience of those who have gone before you then you do so at your own peril, and let there be no doubt, it is perilous indeed.

Improvement Requires Change

I am frequently surprised by people who want something “better” in their life. I guess that’s not really the part that surprises me, after all, who wouldn’t want “better”. The part that surprises me is that they want something better but they are not willing to accept any amount of change in their life to get it.

 

Any improvement, even a little one, requires that something must change. 

 

Just because you may not enjoy change (you’re most certainly not alone there) does not mean there will be no changes in your life. Change happens whether we want it to or not. 

 

Once you accept the fact that change is one of life’s certainties then you have the choice of whether those changes will drive you or you will drive them. That means the real question is will the changes in your life happen to you or because of you.

 

If you want to drive the change in your life then you must decide what changes you want. You must be very specific about what you want, “better” isn’t nearly specific enough to make it happen. Knowing exactly what you want to be better is a key to having it. You’ll also find that being able to effectively communicate, to yourself and others, exactly why you want the improvement is a big help too.

 

When you know what you want then set your goals and make a plan on exactly how you’ll make the change come about. This is the part many people miss, they want to see a change but they have no plan to make it happen. You need a plan! 

 

Now here’s the thing about your plan… it’s very unlikely to work, at least exactly as you had drawn it up. Expect disruptions in your plan, your path to successful change with be littered with obstacles and nay-saying people. Push on!

 

While you may find your plan wasn’t perfect it’s likely your planning process was sufficient enough to allow you to get right back on course when someone or something pushes you off. 

 

Be patient but be sure you’re not just procrastinating. The very best time to begin your journey to successful change is the moment you’ve identified the change you desire. “Later,” “tomorrow,” and “someday” are just words that slow you down, or stop you all together. The word you need is “now” as in right now, immediately, today. 

 

Be sure to surround yourself with supportive people. Change isn’t easy but like everything else, it’s easier when we get some morale support along the way. Never allow anyone to tell you that you can’t succeed and for heavens sake, never say that self-defeating horrible thing to yourself. 

 

You are going to experience change in your life; for some people that’s pretty bad news, for others it’s pretty good news. I guess it just depends on if your sitting behind the steering wheel of the change bus or if you’re just along for the ride.


So…where are you sitting today?

If it Ain’t Broke, Break It?

You know, try as I might I’m just not a big fan of change. Unless of course I’m driving the change. But I’m also fully aware that perhaps the most dangerous words in business are, “because we’ve always done it that way.”

 

So the first part of this post is written for me and those of you who share similar sentiments about change. We need to get the heck over it and realize that the pace of change is only going to continue to accelerate. We can either get on board that bus or that bus is going to run us over. 

 

Imagine the world if everyone lived with that “we’ve always done it that way” philosophy. No cars, no airplanes, no TV, no internet, and oh my gosh, no cell phones. (I guess no phones for that matter)

 

Obviously we only need to think for a few seconds to realize that change can be very good. The challenge for many people is stopping to think for those few seconds. The reality is that almost everything we use in our daily lives will one day be replaced by something even better.

 

If you can’t embrace change you can’t grow and if you can’t grow you can’t get better. The first thing you may want to consider changing is your instinct to resist change. Replace it with an open mind and at least a “we’ll see” attitude, you never know, you may just be pleasantly surprised.

 

Now for the second part of this post. It is written for those of you just itching to change stuff because you can. You should take a quick lesson from Winston Churchill who said, “there is nothing wrong with change, if it’s in the right direction.”

 

Change for the sake of change is seldom good change. Before you change what’s worked for a long time you may want to consider exactly why it’s worked for a long time. While I’d agree, there very possibly is a better way, make certain you’re not also discarding the part of a process that works and replacing it with an untested process that may not. 

 

“We’ve always done it that way” is a proven method of failure. “Let’s blow up what works and start over” often is as well.


Moving forward with little or no knowledge of your starting point is a quick path to nowhere. Go ahead and change, just be certain that your “better” direction indeed has a solid, realistic chance to be better.