The only thing we have to fear…

Failure is not fatal but failure to change might be – John Wooden

Somehow, somewhere, our basic programming got all screwed up.  While throughout life, change is inevitable — in business, in our economy, in our relationships with others  —  we are fundamentally hard-wired by human nature to resist it.

For example, last week I spoke with the president and founder of a successful food manufacturer in Southern California. He told me about how his company was losing business for the past two years and that he was seeing the dark clouds building up on the horizon for his company and the employees he felt responsible for.  B2B and B2C sales were being eaten away by competitors.  And some key buyers insisted on margins he could not sustain. In short, his business was coming to a critical juncture and he knew that one primary reason was his lackluster, forgettable marketing efforts.  He then said something that still bothers me today: “I know of your company’s reputation and that making a change to your firm would probably be the right thing to do, but for too many reasons, I just can’t switch agencies or strategies at this time.”

While I’m not a psychologist, 25+ years in marketing has taught me that there are some primary causes for why business executives struggle with change. You can probably add another 10 causes yourself but here are my 5 “issue buckets” for resisting change.  See how many sound way too familiar.

5. The status quo is good enough…or “We’ve always done it this way and there’s no reason to change.” That’s not what one would call a rallying cry for success, yet it’s said day in and day out. Couple that with a poison called “being comfortable,” and you’ll unfortunately arrive at the intersection of “Irrelevance Blvd.” and “Vulnerable Ave.”  Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’. – Ronald Reagan

4. Not seeing the Marketplace as it really is. Without any real-world customer and competitive research, the marketplace can be seen in a very skewed manner;  in essence, believing one’s own BS!  Any recommended, alternative approach to what is taking place is ridiculed and discounted.

3. Change costs money.   In a bad economy, logic might suggest that the best thing to do is hunker down, put your arms around the money you’ve got, hold tight and wait it out.  Only here’s the truth: more companies have saved themselves into bankruptcy than spent themselves there.

2. It worked before.  Past success often drives and validates current behaviors. Unfortunately, though, what got you here won’t necessarily get you there because too many other things have changed, so those old formulas will no longer work.

1. Fear.  Since it’s never known for sure what will happen when one makes changes, the fear of change merely leads to inertia. But the truth is, like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, one is sure to encounter untold damage unless there’s movement. (I supposed I could have said that a shark that doesn’t continue to move forward drowns, but that’s just too many animal metaphors!)

One needs to trust that through taking action and moving out of one’s own comfort zone, there’s an opportunity to grow, evolve, and possibly transform into something much greater.  My vote is to do something. Anything.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.   – Wayne Dyer

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight. – Jim Rohn

— by Rolf Gutknecht,  Agent of Change

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