A few thoughts!
Running away versus running towards
The best in art and life comes from a center – something urgent and powerful, an idea or emotion that insists on its being. From that insistence, a shape emerges and creates its structure out of passion. If you begin with a structure, you have to make up the passion, and that’s very hard to do. Roger Rosenblatt
You Can’t Iterate on a Burning Platform, Scrivle
Burning platforms are effective at getting people to act because they trigger strong emotions. And emotions get us moving.
Emotions are also contagious. They spread quickly across social networks.
But there’s a problem with the emotions sparked by a burning platform. They’re negative. They’re fear based. They make us want to run away, hide, or jump ship. And in the long run running away, hiding, or jumping ship aren’t effective at sustaining long term behavior change.
You may get grudging compliance in the short term while the threat is top of mind and pressure is high. But once the pressure eases off, so does compliance. People revert back to their ingrained habits and behaviors. Even when it comes to life threatening illnesses 90% of patients fail to change the ingrained habits and behaviors that are making them ill.
Burning platforms and fear based approaches are based on running away from what’s wrong. And to make matters worse, the negativity sparked by a focus on the problem (the burning platform) reduces people’s creativity and problem-solving abilities just when you need them the most. Our brains get stupider when we’re afraid.
I don’t want [problem]
Pause for a minute and think about a problem you’re currently grappling with.
Maybe it’s your weight. I don’t want [to be overweight].
Maybe it’s a customer issue. I don’t want [so many customer complaints].
Maybe it’s your job. I don’t want [to be stuck in my current dead end job].
Maybe it’s a global issue. I don’t want [global warming].
Close your eyes and relax. Think about the problem. Try to see, smell, taste, hear, and touch all aspects of the problem. Recall a recent experience related to the problem in as much detail as possible. Pay attention to any emotions that begin to manifest themselves.
How does focusing on the problem make you feel? Odds are you’re feeling stress. Your muscles are probably tense. You may even be feeling a sense of frustration or hopelessness.
Just like the statement don’t think of an elephant immediately evokes the image of an elephant, a problem focus embeds an image of the problem in your mind that’s equally hard to shake off.
I want [possibility or object of desire]
What happens if you swap out a problem statement with a possibility statement? Think about something you really want.
I want [to be radiantly healthy].
I want [passionately loyal customers].
I want [to be an intrapreneur].
I want [to be an guerrilla gardener, inspiring others by example].
Now visualize your possibility statement as if it’s already the truth.
I am radiantly healthy.
What does it look like? Taste like? Sound like? Feel like? What was the journey to get your object of desire like? What obstacles did you have to overcome to get there?
How does focusing on your possibility statement make you feel? Odds are you’re feeling inspired. Full of ideas. Pulled towards action. Perhaps you’re smiling or feeling a warm glow of confidence.
The best in art, life, and business comes from a center
Change is seldom direct, fast, or easy. More often it’s creative, iterative, and continuous.
Although a burning platform will temporarily shock people out of their routine, they’ll soon revert back to old behaviors unless there’s a beacon pulling them forward towards new possibilities. A purpose that keeps them going through the inevitable conflicts, ups and downs, setbacks, and naysayers.
Invent the future rather than patch the present.
Seek possibilities, not problems.
Sell hope, not fear.
Strive for commitment, not compliance.
Create new habits rather than try to break old habits.
Run towards rather than away.