10 Ways to Fight Stagnation and Change Trajectory
Persistence may be your problem.
Repeating the past won’t create a new future.
Successful leaders tenaciously persist. However, clinging to failed strategies until your knuckles turn white won’t make them magically work. It isn’t noble; it’s dumb.
Repeating the past creates more of the past.
When persistence is dumb?
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” works when you know where you’re going. Yet, dogged determination is dumb without clearly defined direction.
Most need others to help them see their dumbness. Find smart people to talk with.
Keep on keeping on until you clearly identify new targets. Stopping without new direction may be catastrophic.
When it’s time to change trajectory?
- Know that stopping comes before starting. It’s frequently the hardest step.
- Nothing less than brutal honesty takes you there. People don’t like to admit to themselves that they aren’t getting where they want to go. Admit it!
- Tap into your frustrations rather than ignoring them. They may help you find new directions.
- Warning! Don’t go around the office whining about your frustrations.
- Don’t get stuck in “no.” It’s easy to list the things you don’t like.
- Intentionally translate negative frustrations into positive, “I want,” statements.
- Focus on what not who. It’s easy to blame others for your frustrations. Don’t.
- Don’t decide quickly. Withhold judgment. Explore options. Consider consequences.
- Tell someone your plans.
- Connect with leaders who have changed trajectory.
If the past is creating your desired trajectory, persist. If not, begin creating a new present that changes your future.
What can you add to the, “How to change trajectory,” list I suggested?
What are some of the dangers of changing trajectory?
#7 reminds me of Jim Collins’ “level 5 leader”: the mirror and the window. When things aren’t going well look in the mirror and take responsibility. When things go well look out the window and praise your people.
And your point about needing others to help you see what to don’t see… That’s crucial for a leader. Perhaps every leader needs a personal “board of directors” to meet with periodically. That way, they can avoid the “emperor has no clothes” syndrome.
Thanks for your insights.
Regarding “personal board of directors.” Oh yeah. I’ve made and see others making decisions and seeking counsel after. Doh!!!
We’ll have to discuss the type of people to get on your Personal BoD.
Best to you,
When your actions/efforts keep producing the same unfavorable results. I think it was Einstein that said:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!
Happy Weekend everyone and enjoy the Oscars!
Thanks for the quote and all you do to enhance the community.
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#10 Be willing to be wrong.
Dan I agree, and as a culture our country (the USA) did not inbibe us with an ‘ok to be wrong’ mentality.
I blogged about my experience learning how to make myself wrong before the world does.
Thanks for adding value by extending the conversation.
A Great post about right direction. I believe ” Right Direction overcomes failures and increases determination. I agree to your point that when your efforts in the past have rendered unfavourable result, then similar efforts will yield no different result. So, one needs to analyse and scan the efforts in broader perspectives. Effort, determination and direction do not always guarantee success but we learn how to become successful. I strongly believe that to change trajectory, one should measure and understand the external and internal limitations of person and environment. This opens up more options. One should not be emotionally attracted to get something when things are beyond control. However, effort to achieve goals should be made.
Some of the dangers of changing trajectory might be perceived failure. When you perceive failure beforehand, then you might not try to change your trajectory. There is always risk involved in changing trajectory. And to face that risk you have to have courage and perseverance to face it. Being over optimistic about changing new trajectory could lead you to catastrohpic landing. So, one should excercise patience and avoid expecting more by changing trajectory.
Fine insights for changing trajectory.
When you brought up “perceived failure” it made me go in another direction. We might not change trajectory because other may think us failures.
Lets face it leaders that change to frequently are unreliable. I’m not arguing against my post am I? 😉
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Very insightful post today Dan. Kudos! To answer your questions:
“What can you add to the, “How to change trajectory,” list I suggested?”
Once you change your course, put all your energy into forward motion. Applying it backwards at the old situation is wasted energy and simply slows you down.
“What are some of the dangers of changing trajectory?”
Every decision contains a level of risk. If we do not assess our new risks and opportunities as honestly as we assess our current/past situation we run the risk of repeating past mistakes.
Have a great weekend!…. Joan
You always leave us a useful insight.
Thanks for saying.. “full steam ahead.” Or don’t hang on to old systems, plans, decisions, etc…let them go. Don’t have a fall back plan. Go all in.
I may have overstated your point a bit. 🙂
Thanks for lifting people.
Let a thousand flowers bloom. If you think change is needed but not sure what, test a dozen little options – get learnings cheap, fail fast, pick a winner, and then – with some level of confidence – go!
The wrong change is sometimes worse than no change. Stir the pot first to see what floats.
Love the idea of making small changes. Every change doesn’t have to be a do or die thing. (which can be useful)
On the other hand, there’s something to be said for big change is easier than small change. All the pain comes at once and we deal with it. It’s easier to see if the change worked or not…
Thanks for making me think,
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It’s very easy to get arrogant about your beliefs, thinking your course of action is the only way to go and everyone else is wrong.
In the end, being humble is one of the best qualities a leader can have, it helps you find like-minded people to shed a different, alternative light on your thoughts and vision.
Here’s my take-away from your comment: Humility is listening to others and believing they could be right.
Thank you sir,
You know it is past time to change trajectory when you start wondering if its time to change trajectory…
What was a successful trajectory 5 years ago may not work at all now…
Not changing trajectory when all cues say it is past time is perhaps more dangerous…
In the substance abuse counseling world, it has been noted that people may ‘relapse’ 5-6 or more times before they succeed. In those relapses, there is a choice (and perception) that fits leadership as well… you can choose to fall forward (learn from your mistakes) or fall backward (wallow in your mistakes–lather, rinse, repeat, pity pot, etc.).
Props to Scott for the level 5 mirror/window note and emperor’s clothes…especially when the emperor is ignoring the mirrors all around! Ewww!
Love your opening sentence.
Thank you for reminding us we can choose to fall forward. If we could all simply embrace that simple idea our lives would have forward trajectory.
Thank you for enhancing the community by consistently giving back.
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‘Change with the time’ is the only answer. Look at the changing market environment, new competitors and their moves, the required shift in core competencies and listen to the consumers’ voice.
The functional leaders at times resist in changing the trajectory and are more inclined to repeat the success strategies that have helped them in the past. But, there is a danger unless we keep a track of new developments and the necessary care to protect the future business.
It is advisable to listen to the new ideas and consider the criticisms received or known from the internal and external customers. Sitting on the past laurels or following the same strategies what might have worked by way of persistence will dig your own grave.
Many successful companies of the past have vanished mainly because the top management resisted to re-direct the trajectory with or without understanding the market dynamics and the changing taste of consumers. Marketing Research then becomes the key driver to sustain the business glory with innovation and speed of action.
Wonderful insights that help us determining the timing of changing trajectory. Listen to our environment.
I’d like to get to the place where I can anticipate the environment. Listening over time may help.
Thanks for sharing your insights and adding value,
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This post reminded me of that scene in “Speed” where the bus is going 60 mph and can’t be stopped, and encounters a completely non existent portion of the highway under construction. Ultimately the characters decide to get enough momentum going that they “leap” the gap. Sometimes changing trajectory involves sticking to the original plan but accelerating your pace!
Challenging! Leaping the gap is a powerful idea. It’s time for you to write a book.
I want to write a post with that title…
Thank you for consistently adding value to the LF community.
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I am learning alot from the issues you blog about. Using them to change my thinking, focus and direction. I could say that you guys are mentoring me to be a better leader and individual. Thinking about this topic makes me think of the book “who moved my cheese” and the insight it offers on change. I think sometimes as individuals or leaders we have a mindset that we must succeed at all costs and there’s only one route to that success. Humility is important, to realise that mistakes can be made and in order to succeed we must change direction. Consultation is key as we are not islands but are sort of like computers, we need to tap into the network to gain knowledge and understanding of issues.
Have been following you on Twitter for some time and thoroughly enjoyed this blog and all the associated comments. Please could I have permission to publish it in my ONLINE MAGAZINE – http://www.womeninc.co.za? A publication for working women operating out of South Africa.
We will make sure there are all associated links and references to it.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I’d be honored for you to publish this article.
I am currently challenged with thinking creatively and strategically, and at times I am (‘dumbly’) between “clinging to failed strategies until your knuckles turn white” and seeking out creative/strategic thinkers. Numbers 3 and 7 are quite familiar to me, as well as #10!
Thank you for this article that is challenging me to understand and grapple with #3 “Tap into your frustrations rather than ignoring them. They may help you find new directions.”
Thanks for leaving your comment and sharing your story.
You have my best wishes.
Thank you for this amazing post.
I just found about this website and i’m digging into it every day.
Objetive and clear thoughts I can relate to and already have some of what I learned in practice.