Just Because You Always Do Doesn’t Mean You Always Should!

improvement - people development networfk
improvement - people development network

Does the thought of attempting improvement scare you?

Creature of habit are you?

When it comes to some things some to all of the time we all are to some extent.

Take me for example.

It’s about improvement

Back in the 70’s I sported a cheesy mustache.

(No comments please; back in the 70’s most all our clothes and facial hair were cheesy.)

Then one day I shaved it off.

Lest you think I’m a take-charge kinda guy and, peer pressure be damned, I just did what I thought was best, I wasn’t and didn’t.

Shaving was about personal improvement and so I agonized in the mirror days ahead of actually whacking it off, followed by additional days asking myself what have I done?

So what moved me? First, consider why I didn’t shave sooner.

Stockholm Syndrome

If you’re not familiar with Stockholm Syndrome let me spare you a Wikipedia search.

“Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.”

In other words, after a point, the “hostage” begins to look upon their “captor” as beneficial to their survival.

This typically refers to one person holding sway over another.

Typically but not always.

In the case of my mustache, I was both the “hostage” and the “captor”.

Part of me no longer liked it while another part said, “You look really far out with it and will look really stupid if you shave it off!”

The devil you know

Much of what we all do is done because, well, that’s what we’ve always done.


  • Stay in jobs, stay married, or single, continue wearing the same style of clothes, continue listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows.
  • Use the same phone while complaining how slow it is, how many dropped calls there are.
  • Turn out work product never questioning whether there might be a better way to do what we do.

In many cases what we do and the way we do it should not change; it is as good as it can be.

Many but nowhere near all cases.

Attempting improvement is scary but there are better ways to do most things and we’d find them were we just to consider what we do and how we do it.

Why don’t we?

Because the devil we know is less scary than the devil we think we might know were we to change.

Fewer cheesy mustaches!

So, what to do?

If you even suspect you are in a situation that could be better, spend time thinking what to do to make it so.

But even when convinced everything is perfect, check to see that it is.

Really check!

Don’t accept the little voice inside telling you all is as good as it can be.

It just may be your “captor” telling your “hostage”, “Man, your mustache is faaaaar out!

William Matthies
William Matthies founded Coyote Insight in 2000 to help start-ups as well as established companies and brands plan for profitable growth. In 1986 he founded what was to become the largest independent market research/database marketing company in the consumer electronics and high tech fields. By the time he sold The Verity Group in 1997, the company employed 400+ people at its California and Costa Rica offices. Today he serves on corporate advisory boards lecturing frequently at industry events around the world on managing change, strategic planning, and customer relations. William's spare time is spent seeking out experiences that change his perspective, while at the same time having great fun. A few years ago, he visited Russia for a Mach 2.5 flight in a MiG 25 supersonic aircraft flying to 80,000 feet, the edge of space. Want details? Contact him, he'll be happy to tell you about it!
William Matthies