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To Stop Insanity, It’s Not Just About Doing Things Differently


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

-attributed to Albert Einstein, but likely apocryphal

Whoever said it, you’ve probably heard this quotation at some point. And in one way or another, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of doing the same thing over and over, all the while expecting a different outcome.

I think the real danger of going insane doesn’t come from something new, but rather from something that we’ve been doing for a while.

Most of us are smart enough to realize that if we try something new and it doesn’t work, we can’t just keep trying the same way and expect different results. We might try again, but we’ll usually switch up the tactic. Even mice in a maze will learn to adapt and attempt different solutions.

No, the greater problem comes when we’ve become conditioned to success. When something works for a while and then it stops working, that’s when it’s tough to change.

We don’t attempt the same thing over and over because we’re stupid, and it’s not because we don’t know any better. It’s just that we love the familiar. We are most at risk at repeating failures when they have worked for us in the past.

“Why isn’t it working?” we ask ourselves. “Maybe if I just try one more time, that will do it.”

Should you get back up and try again? Perhaps.

Or maybe you should try, try, again—but you should try again in a different way.


Image: Mark

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