If you’re going to exercise some self-discipline it’s pointless doing something you find easy and which requires little to no effort.
For me that doesn’t count, infact, it’s tantamount to cheating. Why bother at all if you’re not going to commit to a very real and personal challenge?
I’m taking up the Stoptober challenge this month. Except that, as I don’t smoke, I’ve chosen to give up alcohol for a month instead.
I’m not a big drinker. But I’m a very sociable person who goes out a lot with family, friends and business colleagues. It’s inevitable I’ll end up somewhere with a glass of something or other in my hand. And it’s far easier to say yes to that glass of wine than it is to say no and then have to explain the reason why.
Self-discipline. It won’t be easy and I’ll have to face questions about why I’m doing it else be tempted by mates saying, “Go on Macca, just one glass.”
All of what I am doing at the moment has made me think about the bigger picture and how exercising self-discipline and looking to do the difficult thing is important in business as well.
Especially change. Business growth usually means the need for change. Which, at a core level we are uncomfortable with because very few of us like change.
Whether that’s me giving up alcohol for a month or a company CEO who needs to initiate it.
Kodak are a great example of a business that refused to change. They didn’t adapt to the boom in digital photography. Their photographic products swiftly became obsolete as a result. Bankruptcy followed.
So what would I say to a business that had to change in order to go forward but which had a workforce reluctant to accept it?
I’d refer to my Stoptober challenge. People identify with changes that might apply or mean something to them personally and how we sometimes need to do those more challenging things in life because of their longer term rewards.
Their company could, of course, emulate Kodak and go for the easy option and they’d be comfortable with that. Kodak were. But they soon suffered for it.
Or they could look at a company like Aviva.
They took the decision to change their name from Norwich Union in 2009. And got no end of criticism. They didn’t have to, much like I don’t have to give up alcohol for a month. A tough decision to make? Yes. The right decision to make? Judge for yourself. But, three years later they announced record profit levels. A reward for courage, foresight, change. And discipline. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. But they took it regardless.
I bet you’d rather work for a company like that than you would one like Kodak?
They’ve shown how discipline and change can work even though the choice to go through with it was a very difficult one.
So why not try it out for yourself?