“Same old, same old.” I hate that statement, don’t you? You hear it when you go home and reconnect with old friends, local restaurants, and take that walk down memory lane.

That statement is depressing for me to hear concerning businesses, organizations and loved ones. What’s up with the new neighborhood? “Same old, same old.” What’s new with aunt (insert any female name you choose). “Same old, same old.”

How is local business? If I asked you about your business approach, direction and trajectory, is that your answer, too?

I would hate for you to say to me, “Same old, same old, we are exactly who we were last year, and I am exactly who I was last year.”

They were who we thought they were

Dennis Green, the former Phoenix Cardinals NFL coach, coined a phrase after his team lost a game to the undefeated Chicago Bears in 2006. “The Bears were who we thought they were.”

He made this statement after a tough loss to a vaunted team when a win would have turned his season around. This now famous statement will go down in history as one of the greatest sound bites/rants ever.

He scouted them and knew who they were, and nothing about them surprised him. They were easy to defeat, but we just blew it. Lesson learned: When you are predictable and never improve you are vulnerable.

The Bears were undefeated, but made zero improvements, adjustments or changes to what they did, so their success had limitations. This lowly Cardinal team, led by their spirited leader, almost took them out.

Same old, same old will get you beaten

Is your company doing fine now, but you’re vulnerable because you’re addicted to the same old, same old?

The irony is that the Bears, as good as they were, came up short in the Super Bowl that same season. Why? Maybe because they were who we thought they were. Is that why the Indianapolis Colts led by Peyton Manning took them out?

How much fun is that? Same old…same old! Even if you are good, same old…same old will get you beaten eventually.

Ever heard of Maytag? I thought we would never stop viewing that Maytag commercial with that Maytag repair guy who was so bored. Same old…same old doomed Maytag, as they were bought out by Whirlpool years ago.

To be perfectly honest, how much improvement or change do you really see in your industry? I am depressed even typing the statement. “Same old, same old.”

I am a sports guy at heart who has slowly figured out the business world. In sports, whenever the season ends for your favorite sports teams, you expect, no, you demand they get better next season. The leadership door in sports is always revolving because of the high expectations of the fan base and ownership. And there is not a sports executive in the world who can get away with the statement that I dare not repeat and keep their job. If you aren’t getting better, you are actually getting worse.

Fans and customers demand improvement

Most fans around the country demand improvement and change, and it is an acceptable business practice. Your belief in your favorite team’s improvement is what triggers you to re-up your season tickets or to get excited in the first place.

Same old, same old is a huge turnoff that doesn’t excite anyone. The reason why sports is such a metaphor for life is because we observe and expect our favorite teams to get better each season. Even that one team that does win it all, they need to get better to repeat, because now they are the team to beat.

In sports, if your team doesn’t show significant improvements, some serious consequences and repercussions will go down.

Here’s the good news. Whether fans demanded it or not, any sportsman worth his salt is bred to get bigger, stronger and faster each and every season. In sports, the world I come from, desiring to improve is bred in you from a young age. Nobody stays the same, or you become vulnerable.

Peak performers want to get better

Let me drive this home to you and make it plain and simple. Peak performers desire to improve. Regardless of past successes or failures, getting better needs to be at the core of your business career.

I hope it’s a part of your company’s culture, or you are a bad leader. I mean, I hate to be blunt, but you business leaders shouldn’t get off the hook so easily. Your company is just not good enough right now. You need to get better, or someone in leadership needs to get fired! Denny Green got fired, and so did Lovie Smith, eventually, for the Bears.

Here is what I need to hear you say: “Peak performers desire to improve.” It must become who you are. “I won’t stop until my company is the best” is the mentality of a peak performer.

The business leaders I am looking for would say, you’re right. We do need to get better. Why? Because great leaders in sports or in business desire to improve, whether last season ended the way they expected or not. Peak performers desire to improve and will never say, “Same old…same old.”

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