Leadership

Be Unhappy

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When you want to be healthy, you could focus on the good stuff you want; maybe you work out and eat healthy to have toned arms, or firm abs, or even a certain weight on the scale. But if you are unhealthy today and you are going to change your habits, you have to first be dissatisfied with what is. You have to realize that if you continue eating over the kitchen sink, and only things that have health claims on the packages (anything that needs a health claim probably isn’t healthy), you’re going to end up with weight gain. You have to imagine what that leads to: obesity.

And then you have to picture that fat and how having that inside of your body lead to chronic health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. You have to acknowledge these diseases cause long-term problems and are responsible for many premature deaths in the world only second to tobacco. You have to own up to the personal costs (creativity, energy, even your own self-image), the effect on productivity at work, and the very real but sometimes indirect costs of healthcare.

Change requires a shift. It does not happen all by itself.

If you want to be an innovator, you could focus on all the good stuff you want to create, and do. But if you are going to change your ways to become a great innovator, you need to first be unhappy. You need to know the cost of not acting.

If you are leading a company, you need to imagine what will happen if you don’t invest part of your budgets every year towards new ideas and experiments that let you explore growth markets and adjacencies. You have to know the cost of doing and owning yourself, versus enabling mesh economics. You need to know the cost to your business when you don’t learn from your customers as well as dialogue with them. If you were our government, you would see you are already experiencing the cost of old paradigms and will continue to do so until you start reimagining
citizenship
. As individuals we need to know the costs when we try to do everything, or when we let ourselves be surrounded by naysayers, or when we try and pretend we already know everything. try and pretend we already know everything. Without understanding the costs of the current situation, we won’t change.

You could wait until something on the outside creates enough dissatisfaction for you to act, or you could start all by yourself. Dissatisfaction has to exist for change to happen. It’s not enough to want something good; you have to want to leave the current situation. No, actually, you have to start hating the current “as is” because it has to get viscerally painful enough to want to change. Only when your pain level gets high enough, will you have the desire to change. So start thinking about what isn’t working, why that sucks, and what it is costing you.

Change is a function of three things: (dissatisfaction) * (vision) * (first steps).

So go ahead, be unhappy.

Author, speaker and strategist, Nilofer Merchant helps you win markets. She ignites cultures of innovation. Her strength is in combining strategic models with market insight and behavioral approaches – resulting in practical advice that fuels growth.

This article is republished with permission and was originally published here.

Photo credit: Solheim Photography

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