The famous paradox called “success trap” in business normally takes the form of intensive utilization of previously optimal strategies and technologies while disregarding new R&D, market exploration, long-term viability factors. This kind of change aversion leads to increasing competitive disadvantages.
Psychotherapists and coaches often face this fenomena in the form of their clients’ limiting beliefs and failing behavior patterns. This is a simple way in which our past success causes our current failures. People tend to rely on behavior strategies that once paid reward, regardless of the circumstances that have changed considerably.
They stick with tradition as if it can improve actual results, they fear innovation, experimentation, and future at large. Eventually, according to the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, roughly 40% of currently leading business players will have to leave the market within 5 years due to an ongoing technological revolution.
At a cultural level, we as a society carry along plenty of beliefs, behavior patterns and cultural anchors from various past epochs which limit our choices not promising any reward whatsoever.
For instance, although the western society has largely gone through transition to the “ecological”, “egalitarian”, “consensus” stage of evolution within the past 30 years, the ideas that our “competitive”, “winning”, “growth-oriented” fathers taught us still stay commonly acceptable. Few people would argue the virtue of hard work in the name of prosperity, but as the key motivation triggers shift towards new value systems, few people find themselves enthusiastically eating Brian Tracy’s frogs wasting not a single minute a week on bullshit videos published on Youtube. I dare to suppose Tracy new that few people would be able to become “the most productive people of their generation” using his advices, otherwise as a coach and trainer he would never deprive himself of generously rewarding individual consultation work by publishing a single book, brilliant in its completeness.
The issue about completeness is that a complete and working success instruction can only be individual. Tons of success literature can be productively utilized by one single type of people — genuine achievers. Many profilers use to refer to them as Stuck or paranoiac psychotype. What about the rest? Does this mean that an emotive or a hypertensive person is doomed to stay underachieving, die in poverty and gain zero guests on her funeral?
Life shows that stuck people are more likely to enter depression at a certain stage, while the other mentioned are normally happy even before they have achieved outstanding results.
Living in the period of core structural changes and paridigm shifts requires an extraordinary attention and strictness towards the way we think and act. Detection and replacement of outdated mindset features becomes vital. Few people can do it on their own, no one can do it alone as effectively as in collaboration. My research of practice in businesstherapy is an attempt to suggest one of efficient solutions for this kind of work, although it does not necessarily focus on the evolution-driven changes.
My desire in this chapter is to illustrate how our consciousness lingers behind the requirements of reality. Some troubles caused by this fact might be obvious, while the rest are too individual to discuss them here and will appear on the pages of this book in a form of case studies.
Generally speaking, the approach of businesstherapy derives from the idea of pacing between actual beliefs and strategies of individuals and teams on the one hand, and their environment’s conditions on the other hand.
Here are a few ridiculous beliefs western people have happily come over in the 20th century:
- Every baby is born to this world as a blank slate. Now we realize that each of us brings about plenty of generic programs, inclinations and limitations when being born.
- If you don’t want your baby to become a communist, feed it cereal starting two days old, strained vegetables from 10 days old, American bacon-n-eggs breakfast starting 10 weeks of age. Parents who are not strict with children are unpatriotic and turn them into socialists (attributed to Dr. Walter W. Sackett Jr. who published his book back in 1962) ;
- ATMs are pointless if you are not a gangster or a gambler. Respectable citizens have no problem getting to the bank in working hours and withdrawing money with a teller’s help (believed in 1950-s);
- Laser is the future of typo correction module for typewriters (believed in 1960-s);
But there are much more powerful beliefs that still influence behavior of most of people, either as core principles or as a secret thought in the back of their mind that causes inner conflicts and blocks productive decisions. Some of them follow:
- Do a good work and wait to be noticed — sooner than later you will thrive. It could have worked well in vertical functional structures but makes no sense in modern flat structures, not mentioning we have long forgotten how to wait! Becides that, people who strive to excel in everything they are doing tend to waste plenty of time on unnecessary work.
- Time in grade (or in industry) is crucial for experience leadership. This belief is common for older generations and might be popular for putting them at an advantage. My generation argues this viewpoint putting on stake high-quality feedback and novatorship.
- Racial and gender biases are marginal and insignificant. Most of the people think they are tolerant. Racism and sexism compound an identity of a socially condemned group. Nevertheless, we unconciously allow biases in our own daily decision making and choises. They influence the teams we create, the environment we choose, the life we live.
- Cerebral positive thinking. In 1990s, it became popular to take the word “problem” as an obscenity for its negative connotation and substitute it with more socially appropriate words like “opportunity” or “objective” at the worst. But by now it has surfaced that listing problems among opportunities allowes our brain, as well as our time planner, to postpone or ignore their handling.
- Good decisions require everyone’s involvement. There are leaders who fear finalizing decision without every member of the board present. But modern business reality requires swift and volitional decision-making. It can be made individually if the leader has all important facts, considers the strategy and is ready for employees’ dissent. But in fact no one will even have time to revise and change the decision, if only it does not directly make one worse-off. On the other hand, the new decision-making culture requires encouraging for those who find shortcomings in the decisions being made and are ready to comment whatever their status with respect to the team. No one is happy to hear “I knew it wouldn’t work out” afterwards.