Posted on

My take: A different take on Einstein’s definition of insanity

May 13/20, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 25

By Steven Feldman

Every so often something comes across my desk that resonates with me. One such piece comes courtesy of Sam Page, founder and CEO of NeuroTriggers Group, a boutique business consultancy that specializes in new customer acquisition, conversion, retention and profit optimization.

The firm was founded on the premise that the ability to get more customers is a function of how well a person grasps the underlying principles of human nature. Neuromarketing, as Page calls it, is taking the latest findings from psychological science/behavioral economics and applying it to real-world marketing and sales processes. People are driven entirely by their psychological makeup, and how we think (cognition) triggers how we feel (emotion), which triggers how we buy (behavior). Bottom line: We can influence the buying behavior of our prospects.

Anyway, Page was writing about a conversation he had with a very frustrated, disappointed and unhappy man in the midst of his sixth divorce. He was, as you might imagine, very down on women and on marriage. Page suggested poor luck of the draw might deliver one, two, maybe even three insane and evil wives. But six? It had not occurred to the man that he was the common denominator in those relationships.

The same thing holds true of the per- son whose every strategic alliance, client relationship or opportunity is either dead on arrival or goes south at some point down the line. Or the sales professional who finds himself engaged in fierce battles with unreasonably cheap prospects time and time again. Or the person who loses weight but gains it all back, going from diet to diet, eventually claiming all diets to be frauds. Or the employee who goes from job to job, at each one finding an awful boss and nasty, spiteful co-workers.

Of course, you can’t assume all trouble is of your doing. After all, the world is filled with challenging individuals. But if you smartly de-personalize situations and detect a pattern of unsatisfactory outcomes, you should stop and question your modus operandi. Not your self worth—your strategy.

Let’s assume you determine your methodology is the common denominator in a “Groundhog Day-esque” series of repetitive nightmares, and for whatever reason or excuse you are unwilling to change your behavior. At that point, you need to fire yourself from that position and either get somebody in there who can do that job well or find a way to be free of it altogether. Most people do neither, and instead just continue down the same path of insanity.

Here are five steps you might recognize in yourself and/or others:

1. Walk down a street and fall into a hole.

2. Walk down the same street, fall into the same hole, and be surprised and pissed off at the hole.

3. Walk down the same street and try to speed up and jump over the hole but fall in anyway and now be really pissed off at the hole.

4. Carry ropes, a flashlight, a ladder, walk down the same street, fall into the same hole but get out—filthy with a sprained ankle and still pissed off at the hole.

5. Walk down a different street.

This all reminds me of an old joke: Two construction workers are sitting on a beam opening their lunch boxes. Worker No. 1 says, “Damn. Cheese sandwiches again!” Worker No. 2 asks, “Why don’t you ask your wife to fix you some- thing different?” Worker No. 1 replies, “I live alone and pack my own lunch.”

It is hard to accept the fact how little control we have over the holes which appear before us. But to always have things fit your way is profoundly limiting. Maybe it’s just time for new ways.