Ten Stupid Reasons

I’m highly motivated at work. If I see a problem, particularly if it’s one that wastes a lot of time and energy, I want to fix it. I’m willing to do what’s necessary to fix it, even if it creates some difficulties in the present, so that we’ll have a better situation going forward.

But I rarely get to fix those problems, because at work there are other people, and other people are not always so keen on fixing things. In fact, it’s been my observation that some of them will plant themselves squarely in front of any solution, no matter how good (or simple or inexpensive), then screech at the top of their lungs if you try to nudge them. Why is that? Why don’t people want to make changes that will improve their own lives?

Work is not the only place I see this happening. There are problems all around. This country is facing some real doozies, but the problems are far from getting fixed. We’ve got leaders ignoring certain problems, deliberately creating others, and even blocking no-brainer solutions. And a noticeable percentage of the population is cheering them on. What the Hell is wrong with these people?

Well, based on what I’ve witnessed at work, here are ten stupid reasons why people are against making positive changes.

  1. Some people are lazy and only willing to do what is strictly necessary to get themselves through this particular day. They will not do anything extra until and unless they’re forced to.
  2. Most people hate change. They do not want to change the way they do things, no matter how much better the alternative way might be. They view change as the enemy, no matter how many benefits it offers, and no matter how terrible the cost of clinging to their old ways might be.
  3. Most people want to believe that they are smart and masterful, and rightfully so. However, some of them feel that need so strongly that they react poorly to any suggestions for improvement. They see the suggestions as criticism of how they do things now, which technically it is, and they cannot tolerate that. To admit the other person is right is to admit that they are wrong. Worse yet, if they perceive the other person as more intelligent or better educated, they may get hostile, even stoop to bad-mouthing and sabotage.
  4. Most people are incapable of projecting themselves into the future and considering how their actions today will affect the outcome. Consequently, they see the minor inconveniences of today as being much worse than future catastrophes, when exactly the opposite is true.
  5. Some people are capable of getting a bad idea so deeply embedded in their heads that there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it. Nothing. It’s stuck there permanently. There is no evidence you could ever present to them that is strong enough to dislodge that idea.
  6. Some people cannot tolerate the risk of being wrong, especially if being wrong could cause them a loss of prestige or position. If a problem has not reached a crisis point, they’d rather do nothing than risk failing to fix the problem.
  7. Some people can’t stand to do anything if it wasn’t their idea in the first place. And the beauty is, if they wait for a long time, they can later propose the same solution and call it their idea. They do not care how many resources are squandered in the meantime.
  8. Some people are so eager to cast themselves as heroes that they’ll let a problem get really bad, even deliberately make it worse, so that they can step in and play the savior.
  9. Many people are one-dimensional thinkers. They do not completely understand the concept of “cost.” They will often erroneously claim that a solution is too expensive, because they’re not considering all the costs. They only see dollar values, and only the dollar values of today. They often fail to consider the costs of not fixing the problem, the risks they incur by stalling, and how much more a problem might ultimately cost if not fixed in time to avoid a catastrophe. They also fail to consider the non-monetary costs, such as time and energy, morale, and health.
  10. Some people have no interest in anyone but themselves. When confronted with a long-term problem, they don’t care. It’s in their personal best interests to milk the system for all it is worth right now. They know that by the time the proverbial shit hits the fan, they’ll be somewhere else, or they’ll have amassed enough resources to protect themselves from personal consequences. They also know how to use a scapegoat to deflect the blame from themselves.

The good news is that a good leader understands these (and the many other) stupid reasons why people stand in the way of progress. And a good leader knows how to push people past their stupid reasons and get them to invest in positive change instead. So all we need is a good leader.

But where do we find that leader?

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