Non Compos Mentis
Definition: not of sound mind, memory, or understanding.
By: Steve Lynn
This predates the old saying “insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results.” (Most people will attribute this quote to Albert Einstein, but the author was Rita Mae Brown in her book Sudden Death on Pg. 68 from 1983) Or said another way, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
I like non-compos mentis a lot better. It’s shorter and to the point, especially when using it with a prospective client who begins the “justifying my behavior” routine. The justifying can consist of scapegoats, far flung theories, distortions, self-inflicted wounds, employee turmoil and economic disadvantages. Yes, even some lying. My next question to them is, “How’s that working for you?” The answer I’m hoping to hear is, “It’s not.” And many times I still continue to hear the list of reasons that justify the behavior. As an executive coach I get to hear lots of excuses why executives behave the way they do. If you need any new ones, give me a call.
Here are the hard cold facts. You can’t grow your business by just working harder. You’ve got to work smarter and different. But don’t keep doing the same things and expect to get different results. That is, by definition, INSANE! Non-compos mentis!
By working harder and doing things the same way, you’ll only accelerate the results. Consider this, if you’re going broke and you work harder and keep doing things the same way, you’ll go broke sooner, that’s a fact. If you’re ordinary, working harder at the same things will make you more ordinary, faster. And if you’re doing well then doing the same things harder will help you do better, faster. But even if you are doing well because you are working harder, consider this; could it be even better without working harder?
There is another possibility, what if the reason you’re doing well is not because of how hard you’re working? What if the economy just happens to be working in your favor? You think it’s your hard work, your long hours and your devotion to the cause that’s delivering the results. What if conditions change and things starts going in the wrong direction, what will you do to fix it? Obviously you’ll think you can fix it by just doing what you’ve always done, work harder, spend more hours or be even more devoted to the cause! So, how’s that working for you?
Let me recommend a far more productive alternative. I suggest that you do things differently. No, I don’t mean randomly differently or for the sake of being different. I don’t mean entirely differently but I do mean eternally differently.
So how do you do that? Paradigm change! Behavior modification! I submit to you that most people spend 95% of their day in the center of their comfort zone. You know, doing the same things the same way, etc., etc., etc. Non-compos mentis! Sometimes through business challenges or adversity some executives may try to expand their comfort zone on their own, some executives may even try to grow outside their comfort zone because of someone else’s suggestion or their own natural desire to change their behavior. However, what happens when people try new things that don’t work? What do they do? They snap right back into their comfort zone. Changing our comfort zone on our own is really difficult.
Here’s our model of behavior modification, let’s use marketing as an example. Let’s say I want to create more visibility in the marketplace for my business. So I either outsource it, or do it within my business. In either case the steps are the same; 1) acquire the knowledge necessary to 2) implement the strategy then 3) measure the results. Based upon the results, then decide to 4) continue, 5) refine or 6) abandon. It’s how our coaching model works. Acquire knowledge (training), apply it (coaching), measure the results (monitoring). Then and only then can we decide to continue, refine or abandon. We say if you can’t measure success, it didn’t happen! Behavior modification becomes much easier when you have a model and an accountability partner.
There are multiple books on behavior modification but the one book I thoroughly enjoyed studying and continue to recommend on the subject of behavior modification is “Who Moved My Cheese.”(Spencer Johnson, M.D.) Let me quote my favorite line, “It would be all so easy if you had a map to the Maze. If the same old routines worked. If they just stop moving “The Cheese.” But things keep changing.”
Remember the only insane thing is to continue doing things the same old way and expecting different results especially when things keep changing. But when you can no longer do what you have always done, you can no longer get what you have always got! That’s why we’re here, Estrada Strategies, ending the cycle of non-compos mentis! Why don’t you call us today? We stand ready to help you navigate the Maze.
Steven Lynn is a CEO Coach with Estrada Strategies. He can be reached at 909-578-7000.