Moving out of our comfort zones and into areas where real change happens can lead to real success.

Have you ever heard the very funny routine Jeff Foxworthy does when he says, “You may be a redneck if…”?

Well, my version goes “You may be resistant to change if…”:

  • You prefer to add a column of numbers in your head.

  • Your VCR blinks 12 o'clock.

  • You're still using a VCR and have never heard of a DVD player.

  • You're proud to tell everyone you've never had a credit card.

  • You're more likely to turn your head to see a '57 Chevy than a new Ferrari.

  • Your idea of exotic Chinese food is chicken chow mein.

  • You're still taking pictures with a Polaroid instead of a digital camera and you call them “snapshots.”

  • You think the variety show is going to make a comeback.

  • You've never heard of a PDA (personal digital assistant) or a day planner and would never consider using one to keep track of your daily appointments.

  • You don't trust banks and would prefer to stuff money in the mattress.

How about when it comes to business issues? You may be resistant to change in your business if:

  • You think the only thing that motivates your employees is money.

  • You think they'll do it because you're the boss and you said so.

  • You have so much out-dated and half-stripped inventory that you have no room for new inventory.

  • You believe you can exist in today's world without learning how to send and receive e-mail.

  • You think you can get all the knowledge you need without tapping into the Internet.

  • You don't need to regularly communicate with your customer through follow-up satisfaction audits, thank-you notes and informative newsletters.

  • You don't need to be active in industry trade associations beyond your service area.

  • You're still using two-way radios instead of Nextels or cell phones.

  • You think you're in the warehouse business instead of the PHC business.

  • You think you can wait to recruit people only after someone leaves.

Success Lies In Change

We're all resistant to change. Yes, even I who preaches change must confront the areas where I still resist. That's why I keep the insert from the wonderful book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson in a frame on my desk. And, I try to update pictures of my kids - they're not age 2 and 4 anymore.

I challenge myself as I challenge my clients to move out of our comfort zones and into the areas where real change happens and where real success lies.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

So, how do you stop doing the same thing? Begin to change yourself through business reading and listening.

Make your business reading more effective by choosing to read business books that are 150 pages long or less. Use a yellow highlighter pen to highlight important concepts as you read and then use the highlighted points to create a summary for future reference.

Listening to business tapes and CDs is different from business reading. Reading affects your thinking, while listening affects your feelings. Reading affects your mind, while listening influences your emotions. You need to do both, daily. Keep tapes and CDs in your car; books next to your bed and on your desk at work.

Workshops & Conferences

Make attending a workshop and conference more effective by compiling a list of questions to bring with you and ask during the workshop. You need to know that what you're going to spend your time learning and implementing actually works in real companies like yours. Network and make new business connections. Take a lot of notes. Reread the course material covered following the workshop each day. Don't kid yourself about waiting to get home. Do it now to make it a part of you. Talk to other attendees and ask questions such as “How do you do this?” and “How did you solve this?” It's the time you're not in class that counts.

Networking & Mentors

Organize and expand your networking contacts. It really iswhoyou know, so keep good contact files. It is also a good idea to network with accountants, attorneys and business peers to identify good banks and loan officers to work with.

Developing a relationship with a qualified mentor is the best way to learn. Mentors are more than teachers, they are people who love having protégés and who enjoy imparting their knowledge and sowing the seeds. (Now you know why my company is called Appleseed.)

Mentors are not just cheerleaders. They are coaches. Their role is not merely to confirm what you are doing correctly. Their goal is to correct you and prevent you from making a mistake. There are two ways to learn: by mistakes and by mentors.

To pursue real change, start small and be consistent in your approach. Real changes take time, effort and then patience. Once you master the practice, I know you'll learn to love change - well, at least you'll grow to like it.

Well, I've got to now. It's time to rewind the clocks.