But Tuesday is meatloaf night!
To a certain extent, we are all creatures of habit.
Like taking the same route home from work night after night, we fall into an unconscious acceptance of what has become the familiar. In fact, on more than one occasion, I have arrived at home, not really remembering the finer details of my drive, as if I was in some altered auto-pilot state.
What is even more interesting is the fact that these routines become so ingrained as one friend lamented, that when a shorter route between his work and home was opened, he did not realize it for months. Even though the new road would shave at least 30 minutes off of his trip each way, every day he continued to do what was familiar and comfortable to him.
In the corporate world, this kind of blind adherence to the familiar has even greater consequences on an organization as it breeds a sort of helplessness.
A recent article by Ron Ashkenas titled “Learned Helplessness in Organizations,” speaks to this very point in that it highlights the fallout from a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.
Specifically, we become resistant to change or thinking outside of the box despite clear evidence that a change is both necessary and advantageous.
Of course you can’t address and change set patterns of behavior if you don’t recognize their existence in the first place. Or as one executive so aptly put it, you can’t be so attached to one single idea or way of doing things so that it closes your mind to productive alternatives. With this particular executive, he advocated what I would call a proactive check and challenge exercise, whereby on a regular basis he would bring his team together to analyze what they were doing currently and seek feedback on ways that they might be able to do things better.
However, before you can implement a check and challenge process, you have to first and foremost be willing to leave your comfort zone.
Along these lines and in an excerpt from my upcoming book “Bullet Proof Your Brand” I would write the following about the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise:
Beginning in the 1990s, as consumers became more health conscious, the brand’s original strength began to lose its lustre. In response to these external changes in consumer tastes, the company changed its name from the venerable Kentucky Fried Chicken moniker to KFC, and began to introduce healthier menu choices. Then in April 2007, the Kentucky Fried Chicken name and logo were reintroduced in the US as part of a major rebranding strategy.
The point with the Kentucky Fried Chicken reference is that even though its brand image experienced several transformations over the years, its core specialty is and continues to be chicken. Go ahead and ask someone what comes to mind when you say KFC? Almost instantly they will say chicken.
As we discussed in Chapter 3, in which I made reference to the importance of managing your career as if it “were a start-up business,” like KFC, you also have a specialty by which people can immediately relate to your brand’s value proposition. The key is to identify that specialty and then effectively market it in the context of what is currently deemed to be a desirable or needed ability.
This latter point is the key. Can you imagine if KFC was reluctant to think outside of their familiar box and instead of responding to public demands based on health concerns, they put all their energies into promoting fried chicken?
Recalling once again the Rita Mae Brown quote about insanity re doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results, how many of us fall into the trap of staying within our comfort zone?
Like the above example, we have to broaden the possibilities beyond a known and familiar range of vision whether it be business related, our ride home from work at the end of the day or serving something different than meatloaf on Tuesday nights.
So here is my challenge to you; look at everything you are doing now relative to your career and work then ask yourself – is there a better way?
Let me know how it goes.