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Winning today (vs. winning tomorrow)

Look around. You're not number one on that bestseller list, or chosen for this RFP or invited to give that talk.

It's frustrating. There are engagements you ought to have, sales you ought to be making, clients that ought to understand you…

One choice is to spend today frustrated that you're not winning with the product you have for the market you've chosen.

The other choice is to focus on what you need to do today to win tomorrow.

The Milgram extension

In his famous experiment, Stanley Milgram gave his subjects a switch and then encouraged them to give (fake) electric shocks to his confederates if they were slow to follow instructions.

The internet has become a giant version of this, except the shocks are real.

You give people a switch and they can shock you whenever they choose, disrupt your day, cloud your horizons and generally make you feel like a failure.

Of course, that switch has always been given to certain members of your family or co-workers or teachers. But now, thanks to the ability of a total stranger to dump his anxiety or anger on you, the switch is easily handed to hundreds or thousands of people.

Extending the circle of people who are able to zap you is human nature. It's easy to do and tempting, too (because it feels as though you're gaining the ability to have others approve of you). On balance, my guess is that a large number of strangers holding on to electric shock buttons is a dangerous situation. But it's up to you.

Understanding stuck

Is there a human being alive who is capable of getting to an airplane who doesn't know how to buckle his seatbelt?

Given that we have 100% seatbelt understanding among the flying population, why do flight attendants repeat the instructions literally millions of times a year? (Low and flat across the waist…)

It's stuck.

Like so many policies, beliefs and procedures in our organizations, this is a ritual that's stuck. To get unstuck, organizations need two things:

a. a vacuum and,

b. a willingness to ignore dissent

Change gets made by people who care, who have some sort of authority and are willing to take responsibility. Often, though, finding all three is tough, particularly when faced with the immovable object of the stuck organization.

One approach to getting unstuck is the clean sheet of paper. Dictate that the speech before flight is going to change, that the menu will be redone, that the qualifications are going to start over, from zero.

Now, instead of needing an unanimous vote to remove something, merely demand that you need a passionate voice to add something.

For years, the Yahoo home page was stuck, with literally hundreds of links on it. No one could take a link off the page, because unanimous consent was impossible. Once Google decided to start with a completely blank page, a different approach was possible.

Move your team across the street, open a new location, completely rewrite the employee handbook, throw out the standard sales script–by creating a vacuum, you give your team permission to invent.

Is more always better?

Sometimes, only better is better.

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