It is best to rise from life as from a banquet, neither thirsty nor drunken – Aristotle
A week from today 25 % of us will have abandoned the resolutions we’re making right now (Washington Post).
The top New Year’s resolution? As if I needed to ask – of the 45 percent of us making resolutions, losing weight is at the top of the list. So, in about a week from now, not only will millions of us be fatter, but millions of us will be depressed. Oprah, my beautiful friend Oprah, where are you when I need you? Dammit….
Clearly we have a problem but, before offering some suggestions to increase your odds of effecting change in 2016, today, I ask you to take a moment to think about the organization you work for and answer the following question:
What tools does your organization reach for most often when attempting to fix problems?
For most of you, the answer to this question is: rules and incentives (aka carrots and sticks).
And how is that working out for you?
If Jeffrey Pfeffer is right, rules and incentives are having a negative effect on your engagement and work satisfaction; and, if Barry Schwartz is right, rules and incentives, while being good in the short run, are chipping away at what Aristotle referred to as your “practical wisdom,” which is a combination of moral will and moral skill (see video below).
Return now to your New Year’s resolutions and ask the following question:
What tools are you planning to use to reach the desired outcome?
Ummm…by chance are you planning on using rules and incentives? If your goal is to lose weight do any of these rules/incentives look familiar?
- No carbs
- No meat
- Fitting into a particular piece of clothing.
- Improving your 10K race pace.
- Improving your health.
Although there is no denying that in the short run, rules and incentives work, judging by the number of us who will be making the same resolutions next year, just as it is for organizations, I believe if you want to play the long game it’s better to appeal to practical wisdom.
So, looking forward to talking more about this starting next week but, until then, I wanted to leave you with this talk by the very wise Barry Schwartz titled Our Loss of Wisdom.
For those of you without the time to watch, Barry opines that wise people know:
- When and how to make the exception to every rule.
- When and how to improvise.
- How to use moral skills in pursuit of the right aims.
- And that wise people are made not born.
Don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to get a head start on breaking my no carbs diet and have a pancake breakfast with my family…I think Aristotle would approve.
Video not displaying properly? Click here.
Having said that, I am interested to hear from you. Good, bad, or otherwise, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only person who will read your email and, as time allows, I’ll do my best, at a minimum, to personally acknowledge receipt.