If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
No one appears quite sure who the author of this excellent, profound quote is. Some references site Susan Jeffries, others Mark Twain and yet others consider the author to be Anon. Whoever the author, however, they deserve much praise. Like so many propositions of life there is great truth in their simplicity and profound declarations. How is it then that déjà vu, anyone can so readily occur in our lives: repeating patterns of behaviour leading to repeating outcomes?
We often behave as creatures of habit, lovers of familiarity and sameness. Most habits take about six weeks to form and habits are conditions that aren’t necessarily easy to break (although we most certainly can) for any number of reasons. Those habits become familiar and automatic to us (just ask anyone who’s wanting to quit smoking what it’s like to break their habitual lifestyle). If those habits are ones that we want to have (in my case the habits that I have formed include exercising regularly, drinking lots of water and reading the Bible, among other things) then I will continue to get those outcomes that I want: my auto response has been rewired to want them and therefore to do them. Yet, if those habits are resulting in outcomes that we don’t want (again, in my case, to sound the car horn whenever someone cuts me up on the motorway!) then our repetitive habits will once more result in the same outcomes each time. The key difference though is that I desired the first outcomes from my habits: they give me discipline when I exercised, insight and spiritual growth when I read the Bible whereas the second gives stress and unhelpful anger when I repeatedly sound the horn; a sore hand too!
If I keep exercising I will keep getting stronger and fitter. If I keep slamming the horn then I will keep stressing my system and getting a sore hand. So, can anything be done about this? At Powerchange we firmly believe that the answer is YES! We can change our beliefs and therefore our habits and our actions when we recognise what’s the trigger behind the outcomes (see my previous blog entry for some thought on this). When we realise the effect our actions are having and they keep having we can do something about it to prevent it happening again, however small that change might appear to be.
The Titanic tragically sunk on 15th April 1912 with the loss of many lives. Quoting from Wikipedia: “The ship had a total lifeboat capacity of 1,178 people, although her maximum capacity was 3,547…” Apparently, the rudder was an acceptable size for a vessel but it was a fraction of the size of the Cunnard ships of a similar size to The Titanic. Also, The Titanic’s turbine wasn’t designed to work efficiently in reverse: something that it was forced to do when it was thrown into reverse mode in the attempt to avoid the approaching iceberg. In summary therefore: the turbine lacked the design flexibility, the rudder lacked adequate size when compared with similar vessels and there were insufficient life boats to accommodate the crew in the event of a disaster. Perhaps, any one of these flaws could have been addressed before the maiden voyage that would have resulted in a considerable saving of lives. What’s my point? Engineers learnt from the tragedy of April 15 1912 and made alterations to design and safety thereby avoiding a repeat. So, for us then. What can we change in ourselves that will avoid a repeat of the same event again? Notice, a change in ourselves. It is us that must change, not someone else. Incredibly, had the rudder been able to move The Titanic by a further 5º then The Titanic would have missed the iceberg. For what might seem a very small change an enormous difference would have resulted. It’s often not necessary to think on enormous scales. It is often the little things that can make the big differences.
I’d like to take the opportunity to add to this, most excellent quotation, if I may.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. So, what am I going to do differently next time, however small that might seem on the surface?
What can we change in our lives: what can we do differently next time that will mean that we will miss our ‘iceberg’? Allow yourself to think creatively and identify all the things that you could do. Then, pick one or two that will have the biggest impact but are doable. Yes, having far more lifeboats would have avoided so much needless loss of life (it may have been difficult to implement though) when the people were forced to abandon ship; yet, how much better would it have been to have built a more robust and flexible turbine and rudder (on the face of it such a small change in design) that would have resulted in The Titanic missing the iceberg in the first place and then no one would have needed the lifeboats. (By the way if you’re not quite finding what you could do differently next time then Powerchange can help you. Click here to contact me.) Changes that we make may well be costly; I generally find that things worth doing are costly. The outcomes though are so much more satisfying for the cost that I put in.
Remember, any change towards what you want is better than no change at all. Any change towards what I want will result in a better outcome. How much better? That depends upon whether what you decided to change would have a big impact. That change though may seem to be small; however, it’s impact may well be large.
What change are you going to make? What are you going to do differently next time? You can think differently, you can act differently: you can achieve a different, more satisfying outcome. Déjà vu, anyone?