Groundhog Day: Leadership on Acid (part 4)

Groundhog Day: Leadership on Acid (part 4) 
woodchuckWe can learn a lot from the woodchuck. 


#1 Groundhogs and Leadership

First of all, Happy Groundhog Day.

Punxutawney Phil is the star of Groundhog Day and he did in fact predict an early spring, and if you are like me, you will celebrate by watching one of the great films of the 20th century starring Bill Murray. That movie, in case you never saw it, is about a man who is forced to relive the same day over and over again. It starts as a curse but eventually the main character learns to make use of such a weird phenomenon. When he made a mistake, he would simply try again the next day (still Feb 2nd for everyone else) and see if he could do whatever it was better. By having seemingly unlimited days being the same day, he starting trying many things–saying different things to a woman, for example, to get her to like him. He had to get his face slapped many times before he figured out some things he said were rude or downright mean. 

As leaders, we always must remember that sometimes we have to make some mistakes if we want to achieve our goals. Quite simply one of the biggest threats to success for most leaders is fear of failure.  What if you knew you had 6 months worth of reliving the same day? Perhaps you would take some risks you wouldn’t otherwise, just like Phil Conners (Bill Murray). Perhaps you would care less about what others think and more about what you might be able to accomplish?

#2 Self Control

In the movie, Phil learns to develop a routine. He starts going to piano lessons, for example. He knew that if he went every day for enough times that he would become a decent piano player. For him, reliving the same day helped him gain some self-control. Since it was always the same day and he couldn’t leave town, he might as well start doing some things to help better himself or maybe even make him look better to his lady friend he was trying to impress. She had told him that one of the qualities she seeks is a man who plays an instrument. For him, self control would be going to the lessons on a regular basis. One study about self control (search for “longitudinal gains in self regulation”) suggests great outcomes for those that are able to pick activities that override an impulse or desire, as an ongoing routine. If you just get a gym membership, you might never use it. If you go and then get into a daily program for a few months, you will see the will power come through in other facets of your life (drink less alcohol, miss fewer appointments, procrastinate less, and so on). Psyhcologist Heidi Grant Halvorson tells us in her book “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” that self control is a muscle. She argues that willpower grows when you work on it. Before taking on a 50 pound weight, take on a 5 pound then a 10 pound and build up. Similarly, before you can quit smoking or do something fairly intense, make many smaller goals first and then it will be easier to do the big ones. Phil had to achieve many little things (getting to know the girl) before he could achieve a big thing (taking the girl to bed). Leaders must have and work on their will power, so that they may be able to have will power for those big things. 

To Recap, go watch Groundhog Day. Know that making some mistakes is normal and part of the process. Self control is a muscle, and must be worked on a regular basis if you want it to work for you in your long term goals. 

What are your examples of will power? Watching less reality shows and doing more reading? Losing weight and drinking less beer? Be punctual more often?      Share with us your comments! 


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