Don’t get “stuck on stupid”

Now, I should start by saying that you already know what I’m about to share with you, but so do all my clients and the concept has proved a significant turning point for some of them.

As a business consultant, my favourite question: “How’s business?” elicits one of two responses:

  • good thanks” or
  • could be better and these are the reasons why…

To be honest, it’s usually the latter, given the ambition levels of my average client.

The reasons usually fall into 5-6 predictable categories – finance, sales, profit, people, customers or processes. No surprise there. However, the odd thing is the fact that some of the more entrenched issues are being tackled using the same methods that have always been used, with the expectation of a transformational outcome. Not a chance. Simply working harder at a strategy that isn’t working is unlikely to have any impact.

“Of course. I knew that. It’s obvious” you (and they) are now thinking. So why do we all get “stuck on stupid”, particularly on some of our more long-standing issues? Not stupid – far from it – but acting as if we were. And please note that all of my clients are intelligent and highly resourceful and resilient business owners who have achieved extraordinary things in the world of business that (maybe) you and certainly I can only dream about. The reasons are probably twofold:

  • Inertia, which my physics teacher told me is the propensity of a body to remain static or continue at the same velocity in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force (well, something like that anyway) or
  • A sort of blindness or unconsciousness to the issue, often caused by adopting “learned helplessness” – you know, that thing we do where we don’t even bother to spend time and effort addressing a problem in a systematic way. “Give up at the get-go” if you like.

So, it’s actually a choice we are making to retain the problem, albeit an unconscious one.

My next question is then easy to formulate: “So, what will you do differently in the future to fix the issue?” The answer is usually very obvious now that we’re both thinking in the right way.

Different outcome required = Different strategy needed. Simples…

What do you need to do differently?

About paulhopwood

Teaching, guiding and mentoring professional service firms and successful business owners, providing them with time to think. Love family, reading and walking. Brighton UK
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