That's the Way We've Always Done It!
by Cindy Ventrice
"That's the way weve 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change, I routinely see how outdated habits and routines can keep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, "Thats
the way weve 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
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that are based on old, outdated information.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 doesnt 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is a habit based on old, outdated information.
Are we operating from old, outdated information?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
articles e-zine telecommuting