Is it evolution or revolution that you need for growth?
Updated: Jul 25
Watford Football Team has sacked their manager with two more games to go. Some say it's "trigger happy" and they should "let it ride", but Watford has a history of changing their manager resulting in a positive outcome...after a short period of adjustment, the "comeback" occurs.
Whether revolution is the most successful strategy (at all stages of the game) will, at least on this occasion, play out over the next week, but it gives us pause for thought when it comes to our own approach to change.
I have recently "revolutionised" my instagram feed. I could see what I was doing previously (1) didn't look as good as profiles I admired; I tried to tweak it (evolution - 2) but because I just don't have an eye for graphic design it just made things worse; so I eventually bit the bullet, got graphics support and drew a line (literally you might say) so I could cross to the other side (revolution - 3). I'm pleased with the new look.
I am one for "evolution". It doesn't mean I cannot start again but, I find starting the hardest so I try to make things work. So now I will take that moment to think, is this time to tweak, or is it time to press eject and start again - as sometimes my approach can start becoming tantamount to procrastination.
Perhaps you are different? Perhaps you, like Watford, like some of my clients, are faster to seek to revolutionise. If something isn't working, do you scrap it right away? Again - it can work, but sometimes, you might risk throwing the slow-burn changes out before they are truly ready, and because you percieve they didn't work, you become reluctant to revisit them.
The benefits of evolution
Evolution is a slower process.
You have time to tweak something and look at its effect.
You know what variables have changed and how.
You are also able to identify the what's working well so you do not accidentally throw it away.
It's also, usually, less hard to re-calibrate than it is to restart.
If something doesn't work, you can back track.
The benefits of revolution
Revolution is often immediate
Stops you holding onto outdated ideas and ideals that serve little purpose for you or others.
You may discover something groundbreaking.
It demonstrates your courage to stand true to what you believe to be the right course of action
You have the chance to be a thought/market leader
When gains are made they happen quickly
In my case I am delighted with the results of my instagram "look" - although the jury is still out on the actual data, and there is a part of me that wonders why I "didn't do this before"? But for me "revolution" is likely to remain the last resort under most circumstances.
Everything we are that is substantial and lasting (even our bad habits!) is founded in something we were, and - at least to my mind - the best way to improve on it, is to acknowledge it. While there may be elements of our lives that we do not wish to repeat, taking a moment to recognise the key things we have learned can often be a more grounded approach than simply repressing them.
However, I appreciate that sometimes it is a fundamental lack of confidence in ourselves that leads us to revolutionise. You may notice the reactive tendency when something doesn't work out to vow "I'll never do that again". Unfortunately one of wo things then tends to happen:
1) We either stay resolute for a while and then old habits creep back in
2) We shut that element out of out life completely and potentially miss out on the possible benefits it could bring.
Taking time to learn from the experience:
Why it happened?
What our contribution was
How that contribution came about
...all of the above clears the path to step strongly forward with better awareness of ourselves and others. But facing shame, or dealing with negative experiences takes strength, and we may need extra time, space and support in order to do it effectively.
Another benefit of taking things slowly is that we are better able to compare ourselves to how we've grown - a favourable comparison, rather than falling short of our goal. While some fitness coaches like to say "Only 2 kilometers to go", I have a preference (in my Parkruns) to remind myself "You've done 3 kilometers already." By making incremental steps we can see progress, compared with big gestures where the outcome may be judged on result alone.
While "letting it ride" - can be just as likely to bring about a loss as much as a gain, what it offers is the ability to learn from everything up until the point of change...just don't let it ride too long.
Recognise if your preference is for incremental growth or an immediate overhaul.
Identify when you have done both and what the outcomes were.
Use that knowledge to advise your future decisions - you may even find you are taking small steps when it's past the time to overhaul, and making large changes where a softer approach is needed.
And to avoid procrastination, have an exit strategy.
Remember the more options you have, the more likely you are to find one that works effectively for each occasion.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt