While it’s been repeated so often it can feel worn out, the phrase is true:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Apocryphally credited to Albert Einstein, it warns us of the danger of continuing to do the familiar rather than trying what might be more effective. After all, change can be uncomfortable.
At the same time, doing the same thing over and over again is…a GOOD THING…when what you are doing is effective.
This is one reason why seeking out and following a successful system can be so beneficial. I define a system as:
“The process of predictably achieving a goal based on
a logical and specific set of how-to principles.”
Good systems actually help us to take the correct actions and keep doing the same things for similar, positive results.
This is not insanity. It’s good life practice, it’s good business. Of course, this does not preclude experimenting, testing, tracking, measuring, etc.
The question then, might be: “is doing the same thing over and over again getting you the results you want?” If so, stick with it. If not, change. Find a way to do things correctly and then take the appropriate action and do them.
My business partner, Kathy Zader, often asks: “Whatcha doin’?”
Wisdom is asking ourselves that question on a constant basis. Our honest answers will tell us if we’re headed toward insanity…or great accomplishment. 🙂
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Totally UNrelated to the topic, thinking of Kathy asking “Whatcha doin”?” reminds me of what I would ( and still do) ask my kids (and my clients…and my friends… and maybe even you, Bob): “Where are ya? What’re ya doin’? Who are you with?” Kinda covers everything.
Thanks for starting me off with a chuckle this morning AND reminding me to ask myself what I’m doin’ and whether I should stick with it or change it up 😀
Absolutely agree with you Bob.
But I have to ask: what should we do when what we’re doing is the right thing but we don’t know it yet?
Like the great Zig Ziglar said when he talked about priming the pump: we have to pump it enthusiastically enough, and hard enough and long enough to finally got the water flowing. He said that usual problem is that people stop pumping too soon…
But who can blame them? They were doing the same thing over and over (pumping) without seeing any results (no water)… Yet if they kept going for one more minute or one more second, they would get what they want.
Conclusion: is there any way to know when we should stop doing what we’re doing to try something new?
As always, thank you Bob for sharing your wisdom!
I’m a huge fan of Jim Rohn and his message about being disciplined. Being disciplined — doing the same things each day that add to your success or help you reach goals — is good. For me, this means meditating, exercising, eating the right foods, and getting 8 hours of sleep. It also means saying no to things that will “un-discipline” me (something Rohn talks about at length).
It’s easy to say yes to bad habits.
Dianna: Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us. Yes, that was a consistent message of Jim’s. So very powerful. As he used to say about things like eating and apple a day and brushing your teeth: “easy to do; easy not to do.” 🙂 Thanks again!
Linda: I can totally picture you doing that and exactly what it sounds like. And, don’t change doing THAT. 😉
Bruno: The basic answer to your question is that you don’t always know, and there can be a fine line between persistence (which is a good thing) and really not knowing if you are on an incorrect path and need to take a different approach. Seth Godin discusses this in his excellent book, “The Dip.”
This is also one reason why testing and measuring, whenever possible, is so helpful. Another thing that can help is having a coach or mentor who has “been there/done that” and can help guide you along that path. Its why even coaches have coaches and mentors have mentors.
Loved this post and love to relate the fact of both (sanity/insanity) ways to get results with fitness.
Expecting different results while we keep skipping trainings or keep eating too much, for example. Or take the correct actions and keep doing the things with positive results, being in a good shape or feel good.
Wonderful message, I loved it!
Hola a ti, Maria. Muchas gracias for sharing your wisdom with us about fitness. As a professional fitness trainer, you provide people with the right system, as well as encouragement. And, then, *they* still have to be responsible for following your direction. And, it’s a choice, isn’t it? Great info, mi amiga!
Very Very True I can agree on both sides of the phrase I can agree that doing the same thing over and over again with EXCELLENT Outcomes is an Awesome thing and I can also agree that doing the same thing over and over again when someone is NOT willing to change can be a not so good.
Excellent Point and excellent Post. Thanks Again Bob for bringing up yet again another though provoking thing to think about…
Carly: Thank YOU, my friend, for always sharing your wisdom with us in a very uplifting and encouraging way!
I agree, if it “aint broke then don’t fix” as they say. However, anyone can change something they are not happy about in their lives. Or if something cannot be changed, then work around it and change what you can to find a way to work with it. Great post.
Miriam: Thank you. I appreciate your always kind words. And, love what you said about if it can’t be changed and working around it. Terrific! Regarding your first sentence, the only thing I might say is that, even if it ain’t broke, don’t be afraid to test, tweak and measure just to see if you can get it even “more right-er” LOL. But indeed, keep doing what’s working and what’s right! Thanks again!