If I hear someone say, one more time, the definition of “insanity” is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” I’m going to lose it!
And, if they attribute it to Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin to try to add credibility to it, I’m going to have to ask them to produce an original source.
There seems to be great debate on the original source of this quote, which is beside my point for this blog, but you can read at the end what I’ve found searching the internet for direct sources.
My point for this blog post is two-fold:
- It is disingenuous and dis-respectful to use this statement when there are people with real mental health issues who have been clinically diagnosed as ‘insane.” (one of my long-time best clients is an agency that works with the mentally ill so I am particularly sensitive to this type of thing).
- It is not true 100% of the time and I would argue is not accurate most of the time.
True, if you repeatedly take some type of actions you will get the same or similar results. Such as:
- following a cooking recipe,
- if I spin around in a pirouette I’m going to continue to make myself dizzy (unless and until someone shows me how those beautiful figure skaters do it without getting dizzy), or,
- if I continue to make right turns driving my car when I leave my driveway I will continue to go around the same block over and over.
However, as a business person, here are a couple of ways you would get different results taking the same type of action:
- If a business has continued to market the same way in 2011 as it did in 1980 believing it will achieve the same/similar results, I think that business owner may very well find himself out of business by now…
- If a college grad was hired in 1981 and his/her boss was using the same motivational, compensation and reward strategies in 2001, when this person were more mature, 20-years older and in a different stage in their life, I bet the boss would find those strategies not nearly as effective as they once were…
- E-mail marketing. E-mail open rates continue to decline, so if you are sending blast e-mails to a opted-in list and expecting the same open rates as 5-years ago, or 10-years ago, you will be extremely disappointed (I know I am!).
We have to be diligent and watch our language when communicating with ourselves and our team members.
It is dangerous to speak in absolutes.
There are few absolutes when it comes to getting results in life and business. Each situation must be viewed as unique so we can evaluate it in the moment on its own merits and not fall into the trap of pre-judging the situation.
One of the earliest lessons you probably learned is what happens when you “assume,” right?
So, my challenge for you this week is to take a look at all the things you have fallen into the habit of doing and notice how you probably are not getting the same/similar results as you used to…
Especially when it comes to communicating with your team members.
When that starts happening its time to make a change (or, if you are communicating the same as before, and you are getting the same results you are not happy with, then maybe its time for a change, too?).
Remember, sometimes (I would argue most times that count for us in business) when you find yourself doing the same thing over and over you may get a different result, don’t be surprised. Just decide if its the result you want. If it is keep doing it, if its not change what you are doing!
By the way, if you are struggling to get results (or just responses) from your employees and direct reports for key initiatives, and would like to take a different approach, you may want to schedule a private, 1:1 Leadership Communication Strategy Session with me. Learn more about the value and results you can expect from a Strategy Session here www.ChampionBusinessLeadership.com .
It seems, in my internet search, there is much debate over the original source of this quote. There does not seem to be an actual document quoting Einstein from the time he was alive. And, from my limited online research, the only documented quote is in a 1983 novel written by Rita Mae Brown. It also exists in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous published in 1983 and in its final approval draft of November, 1981, according to someone on wiki.answers.com, for whatever that’s worth. And, although it sounds like something Poor Richard would have written in his almanac nowhere on the internet has any official documentation attributed the quote to Ben Franklin. So, give it up people and especially for reason #1 & #2 above.
’til next time, make it a great week!