“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein
Einstein’s message was compelling, yet insanity continues its prevalence (e.g., business, education, government and politics, etc.) It’s an unfortunate reality of how opportunities for better results go unexplored or forever lost. I refer to these (and coined the phrase used to describe) as “Einstein Opportunities.”
How do you stop the insanity? To get a different result, you must first stop what you’ve been doing. Then, choose different actions that produce the desired result. Jim Collins (Good to Great) suggested that the “what not to do” is as important, if not more, than the “what to do.” The pursuit of Einstein Opportunities requires a deliberate choice and firm commitment to stop the “what not to do.”
Imagine having had an Einstein epiphany: You’re aware you’ve been doing something over and over and getting the same result. You make a decision to do something different. However, there’s more to doing it different. The following true story illustrates why: Three frogs sat on a log and one decided to jump in the lake. How many frogs remained on the log? The obvious answer is two? The correct answer is three. The one frog made a decision, but decided not to jump. The pursuit of Einstein Opportunities requires more than a decision. It requires a commitment to take different action (and, in the frog’s case, “jump”) to achieve a different result.
Part of living is also dying. You must first let go of (allow to die) thoughts and behaviors that do not produce the desired result. Then, choose and commit to different thoughts and behaviors (bring to life) that will produce the desired result. Awareness + Acceptance + Action = Successful Change. Awareness (of the insanity) + Acceptance (of the need for a different result) + Action (to achieve the desired result).
Identifying Einstein Opportunities is a unique attribute of Exemplary Leadership™. It requires leadership to step, and not just think, outside-of-the-box. It requires leadership to encourage and invite employees to step, and not just think, outside-of-the-box too. This is ‘Why Creating a Safe Place Matters.’ Employees need to feel safe and secure when asked to step outside-of-the-box.
Tips and Practical Applications:
- Exemplary Leadership™ requires constant vigilance and pursuit of Einstein Opportunities. Exemplary leaders are role models for other aspiring leaders as well as employees, teams and organizations. Adopting a leadership mindset to identify and pursue Einstein Opportunities is a powerful means of inspiring employee engagement. Imagine all of your employees adopting an Einstein Opportunity mindset. Imagine all of your employees enthusiastically pursuing these opportunities. Imagine a world-class organization.
- When coaching others it’s essential to engage them in the problem and solution. No involvement, no commitment! Ask meaningful questions, (e.g. “If you continue doing what you’re doing where do you think you’ll end up?“, “What do you think you’d need to do differently to achieve a different result?”, “What can I do to assist and support?”). This is an excellent opportunity to use the Start, Stop and Continue framework. It helps identify appropriate next steps. It also fosters engagement and deeper employee commitment.
- When leading change consider introducing the concept of Einstein Opportunities. Encourage employees to identify and take action with these opportunities. Recognize and celebrate employee, team and organization successes in achieving better results. Broadly communicate these successes and significance throughout the organization.
Achieving (and sustaining) high levels of employee engagement is imperative to building high-performance cultures. High employee engagement differentiates the good or great from world-class organizations. Engage all levels of leadership, employees and other key stakeholders in the pursuit of Einstein Opportunities. It begins with Exemplary Leadership™ vision and the pursuit of world-class results.
During this election year, consider the prevalence of Einstein Opportunities: “Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple. – Woody Guthrie.
Here’s to leveraging our simple genius!
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