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Edition 181 – Stuck

For over 30 years, I’ve observed a lot of behaviours inside of family business. Given the work I do and the length of the relationships I maintain, one of the most interesting observations is around change.

You see, a lot of people say they want to change. They want bigger or better or shinier or different. Whatever it is, the years of doing the same old thing has worn them down, or simply made them bored.

However, it’s my experience that very few actually change and for the most part, most individuals revert back to what they know or what they’re comfortable with, with one exception. 

If there is a catastrophic event in someone’s personal or business life, they will always stay the course and follow change right through to the end. Be it a major health event, the death of a spouse, the loss of a significant client or their business premises burn down, it is the strength of the negative event that galvanises individuals into taking action.

Which makes you think, why don’t people run towards pleasure rather than run away from pain?

After working with family business owners and managers for three decades, here’s what I’ve observed as to why people don’t follow through with change:

  1. Scared – most people don’t like being in the state of not knowing. So, rather than challenge themselves to move from Unconscious Incompetence to Unconscious Competence, they fall back into doing what they’ve always done because they’re scared of the unknown. My advice – get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  2. Martyrdom – those individuals who keep doing what they do as a result of wanting to please people, either consciously or subconsciously. The agenda of these individuals is ultimately directed by everyone else but themselves, meaning they can’t undertake change because they don’t know their own ideals and goals. My advice – get selfish! Put yourself first or you’ll never make it.
  3. Perfection – incredibly common particularly amongst professionals, they get to a point on the change journey when they won’t reach out to others to help them. So they put the change process to the side, which eventually gets put in the cupboard and forgotten. My advice – stop being proud. Ask for help and show your vulnerability.
  4. Surrender – life is full of obstacles. The problem is, most individuals looking to change come up against one obstacle, then surrender. If you look at the most successful people in the world, they are successful simply because they fail more often – which means, they try more often. My advice – never give up.
  5. Poor investment – most individuals will not devote the time, the finance or the vulnerability to the process of change. Unless you are prepared to carve out time in your diary to devote to change and unless you’re prepared to engage someone external to your business to hold you accountable to the change process, you’re doing the change equivalent of expecting interest on an investment when you haven’t actually made the investment. My advice – dedicate the time to initiate change and seek accountability to inculcate it.

The interesting thing for me is that of the individuals and businesses that I work with that undertake the change process in a positive manner and stay the course, I’ve observed:

  1. Higher revenues.
  2. Higher profits.
  3. Stronger business relationships.
  4. A greater sense of purpose.
  5. More enjoyment in their lives.
  6. An alignment of values between the family and the business.
  7. An attitude of innovation and constant improvement.

So, if you want to change, what’s stopping you?

Reflect back to the last big change event you attempted in your business? If it was successful, why? If it wasn’t successful, also ask yourself why?