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“Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake.”—Georgette Mosbacher
The First Law of a Thousand Times is that we have to hear the truth a thousand times before we understand it. The Second Law of a Thousand Times is that after understanding the truth, it takes a thousand attempts to make it a part of your life before it works. After a thousand tries, you are finally able make the new truth a part of your life and you are changed.
The process of change is often slow. It seems that we do what doesn’t work over and over, watching ourselves fail, before we get the glimmer of the idea that if we want things to change, we have to change ourselves—otherwise, they don’t change. Then we think about change for a long time, fearful of what the new challenge will bring, while the committee in our heads rages arguments pro and con. Finally, it hurts so much to continue the way we are that we make the decision to actually change. Next, we get to watch ourselves continue to be and do the old ways that we know don’t work. We feel powerless to escape the habit we have built.
Suddenly, in one moment, we think the new thought and do the new action in a seamless, effortless triumph over our past. This happens around the 300th time we make the attempt. We feel how good the new choice feels and we celebrate that we have finally changed. Then, we backslide and do things the old way, again and again. Then, on the 551st try, we do the new change brilliantly once more. Now we’ve got it, the new feeling of the new way of being and doing is clearer. We slide back again into the old habit, but then we accelerate the number of times we do it right. We backslide less often, and succeed more often.
Finally, on the 1,000th time, we’ve made the new change a part of our new selves.
Be patient with yourself as you work on your changes. Bless the process, keep courage and heart in your spirit, and move forward. One step at a time. The 1,000th time will arrive.
Today’s Affirmation: “I embrace changes that make me stronger, wiser, and richer every day.”
Happy Bastille Day!
“Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing” was first said by UCLA Coach Henry Russell Sanders, but Vince Lombardi repeated it often. Like many women back in the day before Title IX, I wasn’t very involved in sports. I needed to learn that men treated business as a game to win, and that “it wasn’t personal, it was business.”
But it hurt and it felt personal when someone interrupted me at a meeting, spoke louder and more forcefully, and then took credit for my idea. It felt personal when I wasn’t offered a promotion or a chance to grow and younger men were promoted above me and other women at work. I felt shut out when the company co-ed softball games were discontinued and all the men in the company joined a male-only softball league with the CEO.
So I studied the game of business, and much of what I learned was useful and good: how to negotiate better pay, how to market and sell products and services, the power of networking, how to work with difficult people, how to read financial statements, handle competition, speak in public, hire and supervise others. That it was important to leverage your talents, and create multiple streams of residual income.
But the way the game is currently being played, not enough people are winning it. Too many people get stuck in low-paying and minimum-wage jobs, and too many of them are women. Add to that the reality that best decisions for the bottom line are not always the best decisions for people. Ford Motor Company executives in the late 60s infamously calculated that it would be cheaper to pay out legal damages than to spend the money to fix design flaws that caused the Pinto’s gas tank to explode in collisions.
When 85 people are winning and 3.5 billion people are losing, the game is a broken game. Throughout history, when that kind of disparity becomes too great, eventually the huge mass of people on the bottom revolt. A key element in the French Revolution was the gathering of the women of Paris who couldn’t buy bread for their families. They had had enough. They marched on Versailles, took the King and Queen prisoner and that was the beginning of the end of royalty in France. Louis XIV saw it coming when he famously said, “Apres moi, le deluge” but he didn’t do anything to prevent it.
Of course I’m not suggesting that we’re at that point—or at least, not here in the United States. There are a lot of revolutions happening around the world, though, and at the bottom of it all is the economic disenfranchisement of huge swathes of people.
But I think we’re ready to have a quiet revolution, one that changes the game, opens it to more players; where the rich aren’t quite so rich and the poor aren’t quite so poor, and most people are fat and happy in the middle. As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said to David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times, “When so much of the purchasing power, so much of the economic gain, goes to the very top, there’s simply not enough purchasing power in the rest of the economy.”
When I mentioned these ideas to one of my writer friends, Linda Sivertsen, she said, “But the company is responsible to its shareholders and they won’t be happy if the stock price goes down.” I replied, “That’s because they’re coming from the old paradigm that money is the only thing that matters to stockholders. Let those stockholders of the old order sell their shares and go elsewhere. Let the marketing for the new stockholders, who give weight to other values in addition to money, commence!”
Two minutes later, she emailed me a link to an online report about how Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, stood firm on their commitment to environmental initiatives and renewable energy sources. Certain conservative shareholders at a shareholders meeting argued that the company shouldn’t be pursuing initiatives that didn’t improve the company’s bottom line. Cook responded that “we do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it.” He said anyone who didn’t agree should sell their shares and “get out of the stock.”
I loved that! Big businesses can be conscious and game-changing, too. Change is coming, and women can help facilitate it.