Counting Crows on Change

There is no finish line. Leaders are competitive by nature, so this idea is unsettling, but it is the truth. Success is a moving target and complacency puts you that much farther behind everyone else.  The Counting Crows are a band that has exemplified this for almost 25 years.

If you’ve ever seen the Counting Crows in concert, it is quite an experience. While reminiscent, every song is distinctly different from the album. And if you heard them play it live last year, it’ll be different this year. In a recent interview, Adam Duritz, the lead singer, stated, “I’m sure they are very different now than they were twenty years ago, but they were different the first week of the first tour than they were the second week of the first tour. That’s a constant thing. We’ve never felt the need to play the song the way it was on the record. There’s no slavery to that.”

Too many leaders get stuck in the “that’s how I’ve always done it” approach. They find something that works and refuse to reexamine how time has affected its relevance. For instance, I worked with one CEO who started his weekly executive meetings at 8:00 every Monday morning. This was reasonable when he founded the company in 1985. Since then, it’s become national with people located all over the country. The Seattle office would prefer not to start at 5:00am Western time, but this CEO is not willing to change. The meeting has always started at 8:00am.

The record was just one moment, and I like it. It’s a moment that you try to capture in time… It’s more important to me to play it how you’re feeling than it is to try to recapture some exact moment that doesn’t really matter anyways. – Adam Duritz

Leadership’s decisions should not be changed on a whim. There simply needs to be a willingness to change, an openness to hearing feedback, and an intellectual curiosity to consider why things get done the way they do.

To keep yourself open to change, consider the advice from the Forbes article Throw Your Old Plan Away:

Learn new information.   Whether it’s learning about the latest industry trends or reading a blog about leadership, increasing knowledge sparks new ideas and keeps us in a change mode.

Build new relationships. As the saying goes, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Being able to share experiences and insights with other educated peers will only make you better.

Create new feedback mechanisms for yourself.   You can’t evolve without receiving feedback from others. Create channels where people can give you their thoughts. Seek out input.