In his classic dramedy “Groundhog’s Day”, actor and funnyman Bill Murray plays a hapless TV anchor/weatherman named Phil Connors who gets stuck covering the annual appearance of Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary weather predicting groundhog. If you aren’t familiar with the legend of the groundhog day tradition, the critter predicts whether there will more Winter or a warming Spring.
As the story unfolds, we discover it is Murray’s character who must relive each and every day. He starts out being a very self-absorbed, full of himself person. As the one 24 hour period starts replaying event by event, he begins to see the possibilities of becoming a better person. The inspiration is the “girl” played by Andie MacDowell aka “Rita”. Phil realizes he must be a much better person in order to win Rita’s affection.
It’s a great story, worthy of adding to your leadership toolkit. Here’s why.
You Too Can Be Stuck
Face it, we all find ourselves occasionally reliving events and circumstances from our work and home lives. The same negative events repeat themselves without positive change. Our occasional efforts to attempt change work sometimes, but not all the time. That is if your heart is not in the intentional change.
Yet when you commit to making permanent changes, you start making progress toward a better outcome. You might have to let cycles repeat a few more times, but the intentional change can take hold and turn things around.
Experience Drives Future Behavior
It is human nature to let prior experience become a heavy influence on future behavior. This is why behavior-based interviewing is so effective.
When I’m interviewing someone for a new job, I ask them to “tell me about a time when ‘blank’” and then I fill in the blank with an experience that is a key factor in my team’s success. Examples might be:
- Tell me about a time when you had to meet a large deadline.
- Tell me about a time when your payroll system crashed 24 hours before your payroll.
- Tell me about a time when you had to recover from a data breach.
Prior behavior is a big indicator of future performance. It is not the only indicator but can be a reliable one. For managers and leaders, your own record of achievement can work for you but can work against you too.
However, old solutions might not be suitable for new problems. If you approach it with a groundhog mentality, you might be surprised at how far off you can be. That is, using the same approach for a problem may never make a difference.
Bad Habits Become Big Hurdles
In the case of Bill Murray’s character, his poor interpersonal skills became huge obstacles for winning Rita. She watched him belittle people and is very put off by his horrible demeanor.
It took several repetitions of the same circumstances for Phil (the character) to get it right.
As leaders, your own habits may be big obstacles too. Remember, people don’t really care what you say. They focus on what you do. Take time to reconsider your approach. If the same old situations keep popping up, maybe it is your approach hindering the change.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Living in a comfort zone, whether good or bad, makes for boring results. Repeating the same routine day after day, week after week, and year after year will seldom realize any growth or change.
Making progress toward new goals often involves some element of risk. A little risk might help move the needle.
Plus, we naturally hate change. So keep that in mind. As the leader, you are the catalyst for change. Being an ‘executive’ anything means you execute on the work. Making things happen is change, so learn to embrace it.
The Big ‘So What’
We’ve explored reasons we get stuck on groundhog’s day. What may be your next move? Do you even know you’re there, stuck in some spin cycle? Why not make an intentional change for new outcomes?
You can make a difference right where you are. The difference can help you, your team, and your home or community. Let Punxsutawney Phil and Phil Connors have their Groundhog Day.
Stop living yours!
Originally posted on DougThorpe.com
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