When “Insanity” Strikes

There are times when nothing that we do seem to be going right.  It just isn’t falling into place.  Why?  What is the reason?  You are doing the same thing that you have done in the past and yet now, it just isn’t working out.  What’s the deal here?

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As Albert Eisntein famously said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  But that goes against the motto of “practice makes perfect”.  After all, how can we master something if we are not doing the same thing over and over again.

I think that the key here is “expecting different results”.  The more we practice, the more we get better at doing a task and will result in improvements up to a certain point.  At that certain point, no matter how much more of the same practice we do, we are not going to improve upon the results as the resulting action brings about that certain range of results.  For example, it is different action plan from learning to run from a couch potato than it is from a jogger to a marathon runner or from lowering your personal best time if you don’t change your training plan.

If that’s the case, what can I do?  When do I know its time to tweak or make necessary changes?

To help you identify when its time to try something different is fairly straightforward.  Ask yourself:

  • When are not getting different results?
  • When did your expectations change to a different result?
  • What circumstances or situations have changed to cause a need for different results?

Once you have identified the change in the desired outcome, situation and cause of it, you can then set about thinking about what can you do to course correct.

How would you go about making changes, whether big or small?  The answer depends on what is the result that you are looking for.  Logically that would be slight changes for small changes in results and it would go proportionally.  Is that always the case?  The difficulty in answering that question lies within these 4 parameters:

  • Level of commitment
  • Level of difficulty
  • Level of desired result or outcome
  • Pressure of time

For example, if I am currently performing a certain task at level 7 and getting results of 8 and now I am told that I need to get it to a result of 9 with a long lead time, I will see that as achievable and therefore my level of commitment is high as the level of difficulty is not perceived as hard.  However, if I am told that I need to double the results to 16 within a short time frame, it might now seem unachievable.  I could give up even before starting.  Or alternatively, I could see it as a great motivation and hence increase my level of commitment towards changing how I have been performing certain task to achieve the new goal.  The dependencies of your success will be tied to the 4 parameters above and the changes to the action plans.

When you realize that “insanity” has struck you, you can make the necessary changes.  Start by asking yourself:

  • What is the new goal or desired outcome?
  • What is the required changes?
  • What can I still continue to do?
  • What do I need to do differently?
  • What help do I need to get?

For example, I have a goal for my golf game to score below 100.  My current average is 105.  To score 99, I just have to eliminate 6 strokes from my current level of play.  When I break down my strokes, it seems to me that if I could putt better, 6 strokes would not be an issue.  So what do I need to do differently?

  • My new goal is to score 99
  • Possible changes:  Putting technique or a different putter.  Might be cheaper to just tweak my putting technique and practice
  • Continue to do:  practice with current technique
  • DO differently:   practice with alignment rods
  • What help do I need:  golf coach or a friend to just watch my alignment

As you can see from the example above, each of us know,  in what area needs a change or improvement but most of the time we don’t do it because the inertia to move and make the change is too strong.

However, I am sure that no one wants to be labeled “insane”.  Hence to be “sane” try different ways of doing something and you will be pleasantly surprise with the results.  Change is not the enemy, “insanity” is.

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