It’s easy to see areas in our lives and our businesses where we need change. But it’s much harder to actually make changes. Why is that? I believe it’s because very often we associate “change” not with actually doing things differently, but just doing the same thing more often and more intensely.
That’s the point that Paul Rulkens makes in this TED Talk - , a classic of the genre, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you take a look at it now before reading further. (And even if you have seen it, it’s always worth re-watching – I’ve watched it several times now, and I’m still spotting new things.)
Rulkens’s point about “thinking outside the box” is key: even though that phrase has long been a cliche, it still reflects an important truth, and Rulkens does us a great service by showing us how small the box actually is for most of us. His example of eating roadkill is a perfect illustration (because it’s so vivid) of the breadth of human experience, and how narrow the range of behaviors we consider “normal” actually is. The reality is that the box we think in is very small – much smaller than we believe! But as Rulkens says, the path to extraordinary results is quality, not quantity: change what you’re doing, don’t just do more of the same.
To leave the 97% of people who just do more (or less) of the same things, and to join the 3% who actually make changes, requires the ability to re-examine the norms or standards in your industry, and to abandon them for something better. Or, as Rulkens puts it: “By understanding that the majority is always wrong when it comes to high performance, finally you have the opportunity to quit fixing things and move to massive innovation.” I’ve found this to be true throughout my career; it actually describes quite well how I managed to build a financial services business where we grew annual revenue from $2 million to more than $50 million. We were never afraid to do things differently. This is also one reason why I’m a big believer in the sales training offered by Integrity Solutions, and why I decided to bring it to Poland. Integrity offers a way of thinking about sales that’s genuinely different from other methodologies, and I believe it has the potential to revolutionize the way Polish organizations approach sales and client relationships. Flexibility and openness to doing things differently is baked in to Integrity’s approach, because it requires you to invest your time and effort into understanding who exactly your client is, and then to tailor your approach to them. Don’t just treat them how you want to be treated: treat them how they want to be treated. If you’re consistently applying this principle, it will automatically help keep your mind open to new ways of doing things. I’ve been lucky in my life and my career to have the support of bosses, mentors, coaches and partners who give me the freedom to do things differently – on the basketball court, then while selling to clients, while building a business and now in the boardroom. If you don’t have that kind of people in your life, drop what you’re doing and go find them. And if you’re a boss, mentor, coach or partner yourself – make sure you’re one of them. Reward your people for taking smart risks, for not being afraid to reimagine the world.