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That's the Way We've Always Done It!

 by Cindy Ventrice

"That's the way we’ve always done it," a phrase that cripples our imaginations and limits our potential. As a speaker and trainer on topics that include growth and change, I routinely see how outdated habits and routines can keep us from making significant innovations. Knee-jerk reactions, the result of years of conditioning, are often not in our best interest. We have all heard the response, "That’s the way we’ve always done it." It's the justification given for resisting change. It's very common in business situations where rapid change is the standard; upsizing, downsizing, right-sizing. People want to cling to the past out of fear of the future.

Not all habits and routines are bad. Without them we would have to consider every action we take as if we were doing it for the very first time. Remember the first time you drove a car? You carefully thought through each and every step, adjusting the seat and the mirrors, pumping the gas, turning the key. Now, unless you are driving a new vehicle, you give the process practically no thought. It would be exhausting to always drive with as much thought and scrutiny as we did the very first time.

Some habits serve us well; what we have to watch out for are those habits and routines that are based on old, outdated information. Those are the ones that put us out of step with rapidly changing business opportunities. Our behavior patterns must constantly be re-evaluated if we are going to keep up with constantly changing demands.

This point was illustrated for me by my cat. Lessons often come from the least likely places. When my cat was a kitten, the vet prescribed a nutritional supplement, a thick, smelly gel. He told us to squeeze the gel onto the cat's paw. Because of the instinct to clean, the cat would lick it off. It worked. He did lick it off, but not before he tried to shake it off. He shook his paw with great enthusiasm. We got a laugh from his antics; he got a new habit. Eight years later, when he smells something that he finds unpleasant; whether it is in his dish, on the ground or in my hand - he will shake his paw. There is nothing on his paw and it doesn’t make the smell go away. Shaking his paw no longer serves any purpose. It is a habit based on old, outdated information.

Are we operating from old, outdated information? Are there any areas where we are "shaking our paws?" It's worth the effort to examine our habits and routines to see which are still serving us well and which should be released to make room for innovation and change.

Copyright Cindy Ventrice, 1998

Cindy Ventrice of Potential Unlimited Seminars has been a consultant/trainer  since 1984.  She is currently offering presentations and workshops on topics that include Recognition and Retention Strategies and Navigating Change. She can be reached at 831-476-4224, or email: CVentrice@potential-unltd.com

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