Change your behavior. My parents said it to me when I was a kid and it meant I was in trouble. I do the same with my children. B.F. Skinner revolutionized traditional psychotherapy by saying it. Judge Judy barks it out to her court-TV victims. In the corporate world, we’re told change or perish.
When Monday’s alarm clock goes off, I hope you will change your behavior. Please avoid doing things the same way. Let the creature of habit in you get left behind as you turn off the lights to this year. Be different with the routine things you have to do to bring home a paycheck. We think our mission is to be consistent, predictable, and orderly. How ridiculous is that? What is consistent, predictable, and orderly about anything in our universe?
Robert Kennedy once said, “ Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has enemies.” We instinctively avoid change. We fear it. We don’t understand why it is necessary. Change makes us angry. It creates anxiety. It makes us hide. Change makes us sweat. Good! Sweating is a cleansing process. Anxiety is energy. Fear stimulates imagination. Anger creates thrust.
The emotional reactions we have to change must be set free to provide the passion we need for progress.
Find a significant time in history or an invention that was not engulfed in a passion to foster change. Think of the people you admire the most. Were they conformists or authors of a new vision? We are all different; therefore, we have the innate capacity for originality. Some of us harbor the capacity. We keep it hidden to avoid being noticed. Others challenge the line drawn in the sand and dare to step into the potentially lonely world of original thinking. It is those people who find life satisfying. They change their behavior while attempting to influence the behaviors of others.
I like people filled with ambition – people fueled with a desire to achieve more than they will. Leaders who invite change and embrace creative chaos are very attractive to people with a wealth of originality. Those who rule through meetings, e-mail and in the ivory tower are paragons of downsizing without a plan for growth. They are threatened by change and suspicious of innovators. Their bottom line is a number, not a soul.
Please change your behavior. Promise to explore new ideas and invite the whirlwind of originality to blow gale force warnings. Success is born of being different, fast, colorful, eye-catching, and passionate. When we think of very successful people, we think of people who changed their behaviors. In many cases, their decision to change influenced generations.
Please don’t do it the same way. Don’t fool yourself by re-packaging the same old junk and claim you’ve made a change either. Drive to work a different way. Take Wednesday off instead of Friday, see what you discover. Cancel committee meetings and just talk to people. Don’t “call a meeting” rather, invite thought, stimulate ideas. Change your company letterhead this coming year. Let it reflect the personality of your organization. Change your logo. There are not enough people in logos and far too many geometric shapes and confusing, deep thought symbols.
Please change what you say and how you say it. Examine your communication style. Does it really have “style”? Are you effective? Probably not, so please change your behavior. Why do executives have retreats? What are they retreating from? Create a place in your organization that stimulates new ideas, refreshes your employees and you can avoid those retreats no one remembers anyway.
It isn’t easy to change, but it is necessary. As Nike says, ‘Just Do It.” Here are some ideas. Try one or two and you are on your way.
Change your behavior, please !
• Get a massage.
• Take your child to breakfast – one on one special time together.
• Host a party for your staff.
• Send more Thank You notes.
• Volunteer at a children’s organization.
• Go to Jamaica, man.
• Put more people pictures in your cafeteria.
• Hire a Director of Corporate Chaos.
• Use all your vacation time.
• Eat chocolate pretzels.
• Take up photography.
• Learn a new language.
• Get a massage, I mean it!
• Send more holiday cards than you receive.
• Go easy on Chicken Wings this coming year.
• Take your staff to a baseball game.
• Write a letter to the editor.
• Hold fewer meetings.
• Get involved in your kid’s school.
• Turn off the TV.
• Learn Italian cooking.
• Value integrity.
• Let a consultant do it.
Promise you’ll change your behavior, please.
Thomas P. McNulty is president of Success Stories, Inc. – a management and marketing consulting firm in Orchard Park. He can be reached at tomsuccess@