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Human Behavior, Compliance, and Identity

In thinking through how to make some changes in my business, I’ve been thinking about identity in general.

One of the strongest drivers of our behavior is to comply with the person we believe ourselves to be.

If you want to do something different, you have to adopt the identity of the kind of person who would do that thing.

What would that person focus on? How would they think? How would they behave?

If you want to quit smoking, for example, you have to take on the identity of a non-smoker. You have to tell yourself: “I’m no longer a smoker … I’m a former smoker. I don’t conform to that behavior any longer.”

If you tell yourself that you make healthy choices more often than not, you’ll begin to feel differently when you make less-than-healthy choices.

Thinking this through, I can see that in some ways I’ve used this kind of thinking intuitively. During the times when I’ve been more physically active, I haven’t had a problem with exercising regularly. Most of the time, I make myself exercise because I know I’ll be glad I did later.

But I’ve never really been very good at applying this perspective to my business work.

I’ll be busy with other projects for the next 45 days, but I’m still taking the time to think things through in advance of doing the work. I’m asking myself, how would someone who owns a business instead of someone who does everything himself behave?

What kind of different choices will I need to make to stop doing everything myself? How will I create structure out of disorder?

Note: it’s not really disorder. Everything I do makes sense to me, but the problem is that it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. Clarifying how things work in a way that is understandable to others I work with is an important early step, I think.

That’s the idea, I think. It’s a process, not a quick fix, but this is the path I’m preparing to go down.

How about you? Are you making any changes?

Comments here.


P.S. After Monday’s post I received 100+ resumes and application letters… but I’m not actually hiring yet! If I want to accept public applications, it will be later in the summer, and I’ll post it here on the blog to be fair to everyone.

Image: Yo