Are You Insane?

InsaneAccording to Albert Einstein Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

How many of us fall into that trap, how many of us try something, fail, and then try again without changing the approach, thinking if we just do the same thing but try harder we will succeed.

Doing the same thing again, but just trying harder, can be a step down that road towards insanity.

When we fail we need to understand why we failed, was it because of a lack of effort or was it because our approach was flawed?

If it is because of a lack of effort, then trying again but trying harder might be successful.

But if our approach is incorrect then no matter how many times we retry no matter how much more effort we put in, we are doomed to fail.

We have to be sure that our approach is the right one, and in my experience, when we fail more often than not it’s because our  approach is wrong.

There can be two causes of this

  1. we understand the problem, it’s just our approach is wrong
  2. we don’t fully understand the problem

More often than not when I work with companies, I find that the challenge is, that they don’t fully understand the problem.

If we don’t fully understand the problem, then our chances of solving it are slim.

Another of my favourite Einstein quotes is ‘If I only had an hour to save the world, I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes on solving it’.

In order to come up with the right solution we need to be sure we fully understand the problem, and if Einstein, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, would spend the majority of the time understanding the problem, then maybe we should take a leaf out of his book.

I can tell you whenever I did an exam, if I got a question wrong it was more often than not because I had read it too quickly and started working on the answer thinking I knew what was wanted, but actually I had misread the question.  Which when you’re studying maths is not a good approach 🙂

It doesn’t matter how good a shot we are, if we are aiming at the wrong target we will miss our real goal.

As leaders it’s our job to make sure our teams are aiming at the right target, so that all of their good effort will be rewarded with good results.

If not, then not then we are setting our teams up for failure, and when they start to fail we may find ourselves promoting insanity by asking them to repeat a failing approach again, or to work harder on a non-solution solution. Which would be just madness.

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles


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