Last Christmas, in a clear sign of festive concern, my family gifted me a gym membership.
It must be close to a decade since I last visited a gym. Aside from the new-found energy, the thing I have found most entertaining is observing what’s changed.
The core exercises are the same. It’s hard to improve on the burpee or box jump. However, when it comes to behaviours. it is like a version of Sliding Doors.
A decade ago, gym attire constituted a clean T-shirt and rugby shorts, and social interaction was limited to a polite nod as you furiously disinfected the running machine.
Now we are pumping iron in backwards flat caps and shin-high socks, and no set is complete without a congratulatory high-five.
Halfway through my first class I was officially nicknamed “Big Rig”. Afterwards I needed to consult my nine-year-old on the etiquette of the fist bump.
It seems sometime during my health hiatus the local sweat box has gone all Slim Shady.
This reminds me a lot of innovation. Many of the most iconic and transformative companies have not fundamentally altered basic processes.
Airbnb still finds you a room. Uber still relies on a car to get you to a location. Airtasker still uses a handyman.
However, they all involve real and significant behavioural change.
Are you game to sleep in a stranger’s house, let your neighbour drive you to the airport or find someone to assemble your IKEA furniture on the internet?
Since I launched Commtract my single biggest obstacle has been behavioural change.
We offer people amazingly talented communicators on demand. Everyone gets the concept and can see immediate practical uses. Most will even concede that flexible work forces are the future.
Fortunately, there are always the adventurous early adopters. These folks are happy to challenge the status quo, embrace change and are invariably rewarded in their own careers.
However, there are some who simply cannot align the theory and practice. Embracing new behaviours is a leap too far. How can they justify the change?
The answer to that is simple. Focus religiously on the output.
Is your accommodation better value, your neighbour’s car quicker and more comfortable or a flexible workforce delivering better outcomes?
Today I just squatted 70 kilograms. Who cares what I was wearing, I haven’t loaded a bar like that since I was 20.
If that doesn’t deserve a combined butt tap, back slap and fist bump, well then my name isn’t Big Rig.