One way out.

I’m always wondering why people do what they do.
I think it’s in my DNA.
My mind was recently roused by a young guy at the gym.
He was punishing his body with a tortuous exercise.
So I asked him what he was up to.
He explained that he hated doing that exercise.
But he had to.
He’s an aspiring bodybuilder.
And there’s a professional who has used that exercise to create a unique aesthetic.
A muscular look that makes him stand out and win competitions.
So now every bodybuilder must have that look.
The judges expect it.
And the only way to create it (so far) is to struggle through that painful routine.
His answer made me think about today’s ridiculously competitive marketplace.
Consumers are our judges.
And their expectations have changed.
Because innovators keep raising the bar.
By doing things that create a unique look and feel (a.k.a. brand).
Unorthodox activities that others were reluctant to do.
Now all brands, all businesses, must follow suit.
Whether they want to or not.
But the pain of change holds most people back.
They rationalize that they don’t need to change (or change that much or that quickly).
They believe that their strengths outweigh their weaknesses.
They assume that their customers are rational and loyal and not drawn to new brands.
They discount the changes as superficial and short-lived.
Or they tell themselves that they’re too old and set in their ways.
And so they start to lose.
First their customers.
Then their reputations.
And finally their passion.
But there is a way out of the downward spiral.
Audacious belief.
Not in something outside yourself.
Belief in yourself.
Belief in your spirit and purpose.
Belief in the hard work of change.
Belief in creating a unique and compelling experience.
Belief in building a brand that provides new value in new ways.
It’s easy to talk yourself out of change (I talked myself out of that tortuous exercise).
But please don’t kid yourself.
You’re not really saving yourself from pain.
You’re slowly killing yourself with comfort.

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.” – Bob Dylan