What I Learned Last Year

baby.gifPeople don’t change. Contrary to what we would like to think, it takes quite a bit to get people to really change. So much so, I would argue it is very, very rare that people change over the long run. I can look back over my own life and see some very constant personality traits that despite my best efforts I cannot or choose to not change. It is my nature, it is how I am wired, it is how I am. I think we are all like this so we need to get over it.

Without a plan, every idea is a good idea. Boy have I been hit with this one a lot this past year. More often than not I’ve been good about annual planning. This might be for work, my personal life or moonlighting projects. There is something about writing a plan that focuses your attention on the “big boulders” and not on the “little pebbles” that I find refreshing. It is so easy in the rush of every day to knock off the little items feeling like you’re getting something done so you just never get around to the really important ones. A plan, with dates, helps control this temptation, and more importantly helps you evaluate new demands on your time as a conscience decision to not complete other important tasks.

Education doesn’t work. Too often folks think that if people just had all the information about a topic, they would get it. People just don’t have enough time and in reality we all prefer to figure it out on our own instead of being told how to think; we have to discover it ourselves. This is one of the best uses of branding. Spend your energy on both building affinity for a brand and its attributes and people will find your product. I think this will be very important today in the “green” market. There is so much confusion and false promises that a reliable brand vendors could use would be a major step in the right direction. And yes, it will also help us tell the story to people who didn’t vote for Gore in the last election.

Things happen when they are suppose to happen. I’ve been reading too much eastern thought lately but I find a lot of wisdom in allowing the universe to catch up with our whimsical desires. I’m not saying we can all be passive couch potatoes and things will fall in our laps, I’m just saying with some things trying to hurrying them up just leads to personal emotional misery. A while back I was struggling to get a screw out of difficult to reach place on something at the house. I was getting increasingly frustrated when I just told myself, “the screw isn’t ready to come out yet.” I sat the task aside, took a deep breath, waited about ten seconds and easily removed the screw with my next twist.

Fear is more motivating than hope. At a recent meeting we discussed the question, “What will the 21st Century be remembered as?” Now of course we are less than 10% done but an interesting question to ponder. I think it will be remembered as the Century of Fear. Governments, politicians, news editors, civic leaders, and even some corporate executives have learned we are naturally more motivated by fear than hope. Don’t believe we’re all scared? Do your kids walk to schooI? The traffic jam every morning and afternoon around our schools are absurd. But of course, something might happen on the way to school. Call me an old fart, but it wasn’t like that when we were kids.

What did you learn in ’07? Drop me a line.