I have learned from experience that behavioral change always begins with awareness, because awareness leads to new choices. People will always choose to change when they are aware that the change will serve their best interest. Awareness of the dramatic impact of apathy and how it works to keep us where we are, is the key to next level of achievement.
Now before you roll your eyes and ask, “What does apathy have to do with anything?” allow me to share my working definition of apathy:
A natural, human instinct, common to us all, that consistently encourages us to seek a comfort zone in which nothing ever changes.
If you really look at your business with an objective eye, you will probably find areas where apathy has set in. After all, it is only natural. In your organization, apathy may look more like burnout, stagnation, indecision, lack of creativity, lack of motivation, and lack of productivity.
Sound more familiar now?
According to Maslow’s famous book, A Theory of Human Motivation, most all human behavior can be traced back to the basic motivation of self-preservation and security. Some may be motivated by higher-level needs, but as soon as their security is threatened, they quickly revert to self-preservation. This process of seeking security and building unproductive comfort zones, if left unchecked, leads to behaviors that are usually described as the causes of people problems and ineffectiveness.
Consider the example of a significant international company in the food services industry that I worked with. It had been operational since the 1970s and had grown revenues to a high of over 200 million dollars, but had leveled off three years prior and was in the beginning stages of decline. When I began to talk to the company leaders about becoming aware of the forces of apathy, the CEO responded “We are debt free with five years of operating capital in the bank. Why should we be concerned with growth? We’re doing just fine.”
The truth that this previously successful CEO had not yet embraced is this: the only alternative to growth is decline, and every organization must choose growth if they want to achieve.
This company and its leaders were clearly in the beginning stages of apathy with all its declining effects. My first step was to generate a new level of awareness of the available untapped potential existing among the leadership team. From this new level of awareness among the leadership team, I started a proactive leadership development process for everyone from the top leaders to every level of the organization.
So what was the result of this new-found awareness? The company began a new phase of growth within 24 months and has never looked back!
The same thing can happen with your business. Take a moment to identify key areas where apathy has set in and you are not experiencing growth. Remember – if you are not growing, you are declining. There is no in-between position in life. Your human instincts will always direct you toward safety by consistently encouraging you to stay where you are and to not change.
Achievement begins with awareness, and continues with effective choices and actions. You can achieve by simply doing the right things consistently over a sustained period of time. But as you strive to achieve, guard against apathy at every turn.
It takes constant diligence and focus to stay on track, but don’t give up. With continued awareness and dedicated focus, achievement is right around the corner!
Inspiring genuine growth and achievement in leaders, David Byrd has 30 years of experience working with top business executives and their organizations. He is a master of effective leadership and works closely with leaders worldwide to maximize their leadership potential. For more information about The Next-Level Achievement System® or David’s book, Achievement – A Proven System For Next Level Growth, visit http://www.authorsup.com/David-Byrd.