Change Often Needs Time To Show Success
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 18, 2017
Me: “That car in front of us is only going 30 and the speed limit is 45. It’s irking me.”
Her: “What are you in a hurry to get to?”
Me: “Wherever I can be sooner than where I am now.”
Almost all of us hate when someone else is holding us up, whether we have something defined or not. For me, if the speed limit is 55, I want to at least be doing 55. For my wife, if the speed limit is 55 she’ll get there in her own sweet time because it’s rare that she’s worried about being somewhere as soon as she can get there. For each of us, these are habits that we can’t change, and neither of us are really in the mood to change these particular things about ourselves.
There are things that each of us do want to change about ourselves. We each want more money. We each want more freedom. We each want to lose weight. We both want it now!
That’s not how change works though. In the original version of The Secret, Esther Hicks states that when people want things in their life they usually want it now, but it’s probably best that it doesn’t happen immediately because either we’re not ready for it or we haven’t thought about all the consequences of what could occur if it did happen now.
Let’s look at weight loss. It turns out that one can lose 2 to 5 pounds in one day by doing a host of different things. You can get into a sauna, dry or steam, and sit in there for a couple of hours to drop even more weight than that. You can try running a marathon without drinking any water along the way. You can get liposuction and have them remove upwards of 10 to 11 pounds.
The thing is, each of these things isn’t good to do. The weight loss you lose on the first two will come back as soon as you drink some water. The weight loss on the other is too extreme and can cause health issues later on, as it’s recommended to remove far less than that at one time.
Change can be tough to deal with. I proved that doing something over a period of time when you really don’t want to be doing it, even if you’ve committed to it, won’t change your behavior whatsoever. You need encouragement, and you need to see beneficial outcomes for you to believe that particular change is necessary or moving in the right direction.
Knowing this doesn’t change anyone’s mind when it comes to trying to make positive changes that are known to be needed. I remember trying to close a deal with a vice president years ago when he acknowledged that there was a disconnect between his hospital and most of the physician’s offices in the area. We talked for about 90 minutes, and we agreed on a strategy that I had basically come up with on the fly because I understood the issue.
The problem? He thought that everything could change within 3 weeks and he could be done with it. I knew that it would take at least 3 months to see some positive changes. After all, these weren’t people who already agreed that they had mutual interests. Thinking that just because you’ve brought them together for breakfast to begin the process of opening a dialogue after years of fighting with each other over processes and importance could be accomplished in a few weeks wasn’t realistic. When I told him that I felt an immediate freeze. I knew that contract was gone, and his not picking up the phone over the next few weeks confirmed that to me later on.
I also remember being in a hospital that had downsized the business office by 20% just after installing a new computer system and having their receivables growing and their cash falling faster than they were prepared to deal with. I told that vice president that it would take at least 3 months before he started seeing any changes at all; he didn’t like that, but that’s just how things usually go.
You can’t correct anything without doing a diagnosis, discovering what skills might be lacking, figure out what else might be missing and finally deciding on a plan of attack. The hospital did start seeing some things change two weeks before the three months, but I was only contracted for three months so I never found out if the changes I started were ever continued.
There are changes that just take time to come to fruition. You can throw money at some things. You can bring in more people. You can yell and scream and pout and cry all you want. If you’re a smart leader, you’ll recognize that quick changes don’t necessarily bring quick results. Once you get past that mindset, change management becomes a bit easier to deal with.
Leaders can be great agents of change, but they also need to be patient. There will be changes that can be swift and necessary that might work out fast and fine. For anything of real importance though, it’s going to take time. Get used to it, just like I had to wait almost 12 years to finally make a best of leadership blogs list. With the company I’m in, that was worth the wait! 🙂