We are all given 2 choices in life and in business… either evolve or repeat.
Everything that happens to us, everything we walk through, everything we experience, is an area of opportunity where we will either learn and grow, or we get to do it all over again until we do.
Without realizing it, we often find ourselves stuck in this battle against our own conditioning. It may be because it’s the way we have always done it, or maybe it’s the influence of our current circumstance and experiences, either way, it is easy for us to get stuck in a routine of limited productivity.
When confronted with the prospect of evolving, many can get intimidated. We take one look at the big picture and shy away from what seems like an insurmountable task. Thankfully, there are ways to break down the process of evolution to make it more manageable.
First, let’s talk about why it is so important to evolve…
When we are faced with the decision to do hard or unfamiliar things, our protective instincts kick in and we tend to pause and ask ourselves if change is truly necessary. While at first glance this might look like a fawning response, it is actually a great starting point. Asking this simple question gives us the latitude to evaluate ourselves and our motivation for moving forward. We need to understand why we are doing what we’re doing, or we are less likely to continue evolving when things become hard.
Personnel Psychology conducted a 10-week study of 41 employees. They set weekly goals and monitored outcomes based on a number of variables. They found that of the 41 employees, those who felt they understood the purpose of the goal (the “why”) were most successful in achieving it.
But remember, sometimes the first question isn’t always, “Why?” but, “Why is this necessary?”
The short answer is because evolution is necessary for growth. If we want to develop as individuals and organizations, we must embrace opportunities for advancement.
THIS is the key to finding success in unexpected places.
Just Say Yes!
Max McKeown said, “All failure is a failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”
Our company, AMA Consulting Group, has a remarkably successful adaptation story. We began 7 years ago with only 4 people who wanted to make a positive impact. And for the next few years, we were completely comfortable being just a small, boutique consulting firm. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, organizations did whatever they had to do to survive, and some…many…didn’t make it. However, AMA saw unprecedented growth during a time when entire communities were completely shut down. In the span of two years, we went from 16 employees to more than 400.
Why is that? What was the difference between us and the many companies who were struggling and closing their doors?
It was because we embraced an opportunity to completely adapt our operations. We said yes, when everyone else was saying no. We looked for innovative solutions to the revolving door of questions and unfamiliar complications. Over and over again, we asked, “Why is this necessary?” and dedicated ourselves to finding the answer. We did this as many times as it took to find our lane of evolution.
As a result, we were able to provide literally hundreds of jobs, and billions of dollars of relief to families during one of the most financially unstable times in history.
So How do we Successfully Evolve and Adapt?
1. Ask Questions (and answer them)
There is a popular saying that goals without a plan are just a wish. According to a study by the Dominican University of California, this rings true. It turns out, people who write down their goals are 20% more likely to achieve them. As we go through each of our goals, write down all the questions that come with each one and then honestly answer them…challenge ourselves to be aggressively honest and transparent. We might be surprised to learn our team has more answers than we originally thought.
2. Be honest about our capabilities, then challenge our reality
Generalities won’t serve us well here. When setting goals, we tend to think we have a better chance of meeting them if we keep it simple, but the opposite is actually true. The more difficult the goal is, the more likely we are to evolve our way to solutions that result in success. Never be afraid to define exactly what we want. By being specific, we significantly increase our chances. The hard part here is not giving into our tendency to make things easy for ourselves. Yes, we should be realistic about what we can actually do, but don’t stop there. We shouldn’t give ourselves any excuses or pathways to take the easy way out. When we challenge our baseline, we evolve as a result.
3. Do hard things…
If it doesn’t challenge us, it won’t change us. Hard things don’t necessarily mean bad things, so don’t shy away from hard things. In fact, setting goals that are challenging, yet attainable, will result in a higher level of performance. Researchers from the Universities of Maryland and Toronto conducted a decades-long project and determined that tough goals improve our performance for the following three reasons:
- They direct our attention away from distractions.
- We are energized by the greater effort required for tough goals.
- They increase our perseverance because tough goals require prolonged effort.
4. Hold ourselves accountable
This doesn’t mean we need a babysitter, although if that works for us and we want to go that route, we should go for it. Accountability can be as simple as keeping a journal of our targets and progress. Create weekly task lists, then go back at the end of each week and check off what we were able to follow through on and then see what might need adjusting for the next week.
Actions speak louder than words, so we have to be prepared to prove what we’re made of. Where are our behaviors misaligned with our goals? Take a good hard look at where we might need to make changes in our actions to facilitate the evolution and growth we want to experience. We can’t expect to evolve much if we aren’t willing to do things differently.
6. Always get (and give) feedback
Evolution takes time. And a key part of the working and waiting process is establishing a feedback loop. Good leaders value the input and perspective of stakeholders because they understand diversity of thought makes them better. Whether we’re receiving feedback from team members, management, landlords, tenants, or community partners the feedback we receive is valuable to our evolution.
Keep in Mind
Evolution is not a race. There are no awards for getting there the quickest. The award comes when we get to look back and see how all our hard work has paid off. When we can measure our growth by changed patterns and behaviors that used to hold us back.
Evolution is a journey with an ever-changing destination and there is no end to the process. Evolve or repeat. It’s up to us.