We’re all familiar with the adage: “Can’t teach an old job new tricks?” Well, I beg to differ for this reason: If we don’t teach those old dogs new tricks, they simply won’t survive. And if you’re one of those “old dogs”, maybe that’s you as a leader…struggling with the idea of embracing new realities; evidenced by the way that you have been leading your organization.
Like dogs, many humans find it difficult to learn something new when the context changes. In our current business landscape where disruption has become the norm, it is easy to understand why leaders struggle in a “change in context” environment. Humans are also creatures of habit. We become uncomfortable with the unfamiliar and find it difficult when the context in which we are doing business changes. The adage “repeated discomfort generates comfort” is one solution that can be applied in the face of change and uncertainty. However, if we are to accept new realities, we first need to address our mindset.
Thoughts are driven by our deeply held beliefs, which manifest as attitudes that dictate outcomes. The manner in which we interpret situations and events and subsequently make decisions is evidence of mindset in action. It takes years to form habits and may take even longer to break them. For this reason, the idea of altering perspectives may seem overwhelming. Unlike dogs, humans possess a higher level of consciousness and larger cerebral cortex with space for complex abstract reasoning. We have the capacity to shift our thinking in order to embrace and adapt to a new order of things. The difficulty lies in overcoming internal pre-programmed messaging regarding our fears and consequently, our mental roadblocks when faced with the need to do things differently.
Remember that you have invested a certain amount of time choosing to view your enterprise in a particular light. If you suspect that you are resisting the need to move forward and “learn new tricks”, it may be helpful to ask yourself: “How accurate is my perspective? “ Or “Is my fear real or imagined?” You may discover that your frame of reference regarding how you view the business landscape is no longer serving you, and it’s time to muster the courage to take the lead and welcome new possibilities.
Can your organization afford to get stuck in the old ways of doing things? It isn’t unusual for leaders and teams to buy into the chorus of voices that say: “Why do we need to change if everything’s working? We’ve always done it that way so why should we change now? “ There is a new imperative requiring you to be that “new dog” who is willing to practice new tricks. Are you holding back your organization by accepting the default “we’ve always done it that way.” position?
Change is possible when you decide to let go and to be willing to constantly improve and to try new methods and new ways of doing things. The most successful organizations are embracing innovation and new thinking as part of the normal way of going about their business.
Now, and in the future, learning “new tricks” is essential to not only survive, but thrive. By letting go and changing your habits and the habits of your business, you will see what is possible… and amaze yourself in the process.
Michelle Ray (Twitter) is one of the best international leadership keynote speakers in Vancouver. She helps you discover your potential through presentations, coaching and consulting. With over 20 years of experience Michelle has worked with hundreds of companies around the world. She is taking bookings for speaking engagements and can be contacted at MichelleRay.com