Albert Einstein is credited with stating “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Although I don’t really believe that is the true definition of insanity, I do believe that many of us get caught in the trap of attacking a problem, personally and professionally, the same way over and over and expecting to get a positive result.
Although I am a big fan of tenacity, and I teach all my clients to stick with the steps they need to produce success, there are times when we need to re-evaluate our solutions. Whether you are trying to lose weight and get fitter, improve your personal relationships or build a business, it is possible to get stuck in a rut. So how do you know when you need to change direction or to just shake things up a little?
1. Have you failed at this problem so often that each time you try, you expect to fail? Failure, especially repeated failure, will chip at your confidence and soon you are programmed to fail. The minute you expect something will not work, it is time to re-evaluate your process.
2. Do you see this challenge as bigger than you? If you have come to believe that this is a problem that you will never conquer, but you feel you must keep trying, it is likely time to assess your perceived solution.
3. Is the failure leading to depression? Solving problems, achieving goals and building successes should be fun and exhilarating, however, when failure happens over and over again it can lead to depression. At this point, it is definitely time to rethink solutions.
So once you have decided to stop the insanity, what do you do next?
1. Re-evaluate the need to conquer this problem. I know that sounds like quitting, but by starting at the beginning, that is the problem or challenge itself, you can assess your own motives for achievement. Trying to do something for the wrong reasons, can lead to failure before you start.
2. If you decide you still want or need to meet the challenge, list all the ways you have tried to beat the challenge. This step is important because this will tell you if you have been hitting the problem the same way each time you tried or if you are looking at the problem from different angles. Sometimes we don’t recognize that we are doing the same things repeatedly.
3. List the ways you haven’t tried and then ask yourself why you haven’t tried them. For instance, let’s say you are trying to lose weight and you have tried Weight Watchers 5 times and each time you have failed. Maybe Weight Watchers, although a perfectly valid program, is just not for you.
4. Enlist the help of others. Sometimes we can only see a problem one way. Ask someone you know well and someone you don’t know well, to give you ideas on how to solve the challenge. People you know, understand you and can help give solutions they think may work for you, while acquaintances can really provide out-of-the-box thoughts.
Although tenacity has its rewards, it is important to be mindful of how we meet the challenges we face, and how the process is working. You may not be insane, but if success is still alluding you perhaps a re-evaluation is in order.