, ,

Letting go of what used to work

When I meet people after my speeches, the number one question I get is this one: „What is the secret to your success?“ Well and my answer can be summarized in a sentence made famous by Marshall Goldsmith: “What got you here, won´t get you there.“ In other words, being successful today means one thing first and foremost: Letting go of what used to work.

The attitude that is lethal for change

As you may know I regularly give open seminars. And on the last day, I always like to hold a quick feedback round and ask my participants what has changed or happened for them during our time together. I admit I have to hold back the tears sometimes, because there are people who literally change their life from the inside out during the short time I am privileged enough to walk alongside them. But there are also the other categories. And I usually hear some sort of variation of the following statement from them: “It was really good. Even though I already knew everything, it felt good to be reassured again.”

Statements like this always break my heart, because an attitude like this means certain death for any development as no more growth is happening. Instead, you keep telling yourself that you are already successful and arrange yourself with the status quo. And I really don´t want to make a plea for the popular faster-higher-further mentality at this point, because, for me, acknowledging even minor details, enjoying moments of peace and being thankful for everything you have are important parts of having a fulfilled life.  But I am convinced that we should never rest on the results of the past. Thankfully, the Changemaker mentality is almost forcing you to take the various opportunities that present themselves to you.

Keep questioning the supposedly normal circumstances

Thus, I would like to incite you to stay critical and hungry, even in the moments of great success. Think outside the box, break the rules and keep questioning the supposedly normal circumstances. Be open to innovative ideas and set out on a new path. The mantra is, “Get out of your comfort zone and embrace change”. And for this, you will need a good amount of courage, because new ideas are often laughed at that first, and sometimes even strongly fought. This always makes me angry, because, by now, you know the quote by Niels Bohr that I like to mention so often: “Predictions are difficult, especially if they have to do with the future.“

Become a critical thinker, rule breaker and game changer

Still, many people react almost automatically with rejection when it comes to new ideas and changing their thinking, because the convenience of the already achieved has become too powerful. They will say things like, “I know all about it,“ “Already tried that,“ “This will never work,“ “Why should I change anything?“  or the notorious, “We´ve always done it this way.“ Heard that before? Said it before yourself? If this is familiar to you, then rest easy, you aren´t the only one. I would like to give you a few prominent examples in history, where innovative people had to fight against a lot of resistance, when they introduced their courageous ideas to the public.

  • A driller in 1859 said this, before the very first oil-drilling project: “Drilling for oil? You mean, drilling a hole into the ground and trying to find oil? You must have gone mad!“
  • Charles H. Duell, director of the US patent office, made this bold statement in 1899: “Everything that can be invented has already been invented!“
  • After German Kaiser Wilhelm II. listened to developer Wilhelm Maybach explain the ten minute long starting procedure of the Mercedes Simplex motor in 1903, he remarked, “The car has no future. I´m putting my money on the horse.“
  • After being asked about the newest development of sound film in 1927, the film giant Harry Warner was wondering, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?“
  • The boss of 20th Century Fox, Darryl F. Zanuck, predicted in 1946, “The TV won´t prevail on the market. People will soon get tired of having to look at a plywood box every night.“ (An almost visionary prognosis, because most people today are already sitting in front of the TV at noon or in the mornings.)
  • When the Beatles sent their demo tape to Decca Recordings in 1962, their rejection letter read, “We don´t like your sound. And groups of guitars are on their way out anyway.“
  • And in 1995 Microsoft Boss Bill Gates dared to make my absolute favorite prediction: “The internet is just a hype.“

And now imagine if all the people who had these phenomenal ideas had listened to the critics, the complainers and the know-it-alls and said, “Okay, I really don´t know if this is going to work out. I’d better give up now.“ But no, thankfully they believed in their ideas and fought for their dreams. And we can take something away from this for our daily lives. Every change is hard in the beginning. When something is new, it´s perfectly normal to be unsure and have doubts about whether it is the right thing to do. But if you actively want to create change, you just have to dare to become a critical thinker, rule breaker and game changer. The reason is simple. The world doesn´t care whether you change or not. But one thing you can be sure of; society, your customers and the people around you definitely do.

Let the change begin!


  • […] Have you let this list affect you a bit? Then I would like to ask you two questions: […]