Aside

Be Unhappy

When you want to be healthy, you could focus on the good stuff you want; maybe you work out and eat healthy to have toned arms, or firm abs, or even a certain weight on the scale. But if you are unhealthy today and you are going to change your habits, you have to first be dissatisfied with what is. You have to realize that if you continue eating over the kitchen sink, and only things that have health claims on the packages (anything that needs a health claim probably isn’t healthy), you’re going to end up with weight gain. You have to imagine what that leads to: obesity. And then you have to picture that fat and how having that inside of your body lead to chronic health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. You have to acknowledge these diseases cause long-term problems and are responsible for many premature deaths in the world only second to tobacco. You have to own up to the personal costs (creativity, energy, even your own self-image), the effect on productivity at work, and the very real but sometimes indirect costs of health care.

Change requires a shift. It does not happen all by itself.

If you want to be an innovator, you could focus on all the good stuff you want to create, and do. But if you are going to change your ways to become a great innovator, you need to first be unhappy. You need to know the cost of not acting. If you are leading a company, you need to imagine what will happen if you don’t invest part of your budgets every year towards new ideas and experiments that let you explore growth markets and adjacencies. You have to know the cost of doing and owning yourself, vs enabling mesh economics. You need to know the cost to your business when you don’t learn from your customers, as well as dialogue with them. If you were our government, you would see you are already experiencing the cost of old paradigms and will continue to do so until you start reimagining citizenship. As individuals we need to know the costs when we to try and do everything, or when we let ourselves be surrounded by naysayers, or when we try and pretend we already know everything.  Without understanding the costs of the current situation, we won’t change.

You could wait until something on the outside creates enough dissatisfaction for you to act, or you could start all by yourself. Dissatisfaction has to exist for change to happen. It’s not enough to want something good; you have to want to leave the current situation. No, actually, you have to start hating the current “as is” because it has to get viscerally painful enough to want to change. Only when your pain level gets high enough, will you have the desire to change. So start thinking about what isn’t working, why that sucks, and what it is costing you.

Change is a function of three things: (dissatisfaction) * (vision) * (first steps).

So go ahead, be unhappy.

, , , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses:

  1. Khalid. August 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm  |  

    Nilofer,

    This last equation said it all:

    Change is a function of three things: (dissatisfaction) * (vision) * (first steps).

    Very creative post!

    Change starts with hating the existing status que + having intention to change after realizing the cost of staying pot + taking the first steps to implement the change

    I see the last step is the most difficult one and that’s where you point as being unhappy!

    Very well explained!

    I think you could extend this posts by merging barriers to change! What makes a person unwilling to even think about change! Is it the culture? Is it group conformity? Is it fear of failure?

    Thanks sister for bringhtening my mind with your creative posts

    Regards,
    Khalid

    Reply
  2. Glen Lubbert. August 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm  |  

    This really resonates. I feel like I was in extreme pain a few years ago about our products and our direction. The amazing, innovating work we are doing now is the result of that pain. It actually tool a lot or organizational pain to really move the innovation needle and drive change.

    Great post Nilofer.

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. August 24, 2011 at 12:38 am  |  

      Great job rocking the work at Mojo. It took courage on your part to shift. By the way, i noticed this post talked about Dissatisfaction + vision + microactions. Do you think we need to do a post on the visionboard process? Would that help people? Or too hard to explain via this forum?

      Reply
  3. Kate. September 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm  |  

    Great post! I really needed to hear this as I am just stuck in the dissatisfaction phase, but didn’t realise that is just the important first step..
    Thank you for your insight.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What Drives You: Emptiness or Fulfillment? - September 13, 2011

    [...] I read a blog post with the premise that innovation and success require first being unhappy or dissatisfied. I had a [...]

  2. What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Growth - September 25, 2011

    [...] he was right. Getting to that next growth market takes more than being unhappy with your current results (in this case, abysmal sales margins and underperforming stock), and it [...]

  3. What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Growth « NanthaKumar23 - September 26, 2011

    [...] he was right. Getting to that next growth market takes more than being unhappy with your current results (in this case, abysmal sales margins and underperforming stock), and it [...]

  4. What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Growth « TaskHoppers - September 27, 2011

    [...] he was right. Getting to that next growth market takes more than being unhappy with your current results (in this case, abysmal sales margins and underperforming stock), and it [...]

  5. What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Growth | Noble Imaging, LLC - October 9, 2011

    [...] he was right. Getting to that next growth market takes more than being unhappy with your current results (in this case, abysmal sales margins and underperforming stock), and it [...]

Leave a Reply