All success starts with change. To make something better, you have to look at the present situation, decide to make a change, then improve and grow. Success comes as a result of improvement and growth, but the process starts with change.
If you want to improve business results, you first must accept that your present situation is not cutting it and you need to change to improve. Embracing change goes beyond the "decision" to change. You must experience a change in yourself -- a shift in your thinking, in your wants, and in your willingness to be uncomfortable as you learn something new.
One of the most difficult components of real change is giving up our excuses. Our outward excuses show our internal habits of thinking. Our thoughts affect our behaviors; we defend our behaviors with our excuses.
Let me give you an example. John is a retail store owner. When he opened his store about a year ago, he never imagined he would need outside sales skills. He thought that as soon as his doors were open, and he and his employees provided superior customer service, the business would roll in. People would come in droves, checkbooks open and credit cards out.
As you might expect, that was not the case. To increase sales, he had to go out and sell. John did not think of himself as a sales person and lacked sales skills. As John and I explored the world of sales and focused on building his sales skills, he made excuse after excuse for why he could not be successful at sales. His excuses were typical; perhaps you have used some of these:
"I don't have the outgoing personality you need to be good at networking."
"I don't know what questions to ask, so I don't say anything."
"I feel bad about interrupting people at work; I can't do cold calls."
We all have our favorite excuses: I'm too busy, I'm too tired, I'm too stressed, I'm too cool, no one is buying, or I'm not a good sales person. Let me ask you this: when you argue for your excuses, what do you get when you win?
The answer is simple: when you win your argument for your excuse, you get to stay in your comfort zone, with your old habits of thinking and behaving, comfortably uncomfortable, getting the same results, recreating your present situation. Every time John defends his position, saying he doesn't have the personality for networking, he talks himself out of going to events and avoids being uncomfortable. He gains comfort, but loses opportunities.
What are your excuses when it comes to change? Do you recognize them when they come out of your mouth or going through your mind? If you truly want change, are you ready to let them go?
A simple exercise can help. On a blank sheet of paper, make three columns. At the top of the first column, write, "My excuses." At the top of the second column, write, "What I get when I win." And at the top of the third column, write, "What I lose."
Now, think about your excuses and write them in the first column. Then for each excuse, write down what you get -- the reward of your excuses, and what you lose when your excuse wins. Be brutally honest. All excuses give some degree of internal satisfaction, though the satisfaction gained is temporary while the losses are more permanent.
True change is hard. You have got to want it bad, and you have got to be willing to do some work to get it. As Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup series of books, says, "If we're not a little uncomfortable every day, we're not growing. All the good stuff is outside our comfort zone." You've got to get uncomfortable to win. Once you get uncomfortable, you have to find ways to stay there. That is how you make change a way of life.