Nelson Mandela was a prisoner at Robben Island for 18 years. In 1982, he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison. Despite the terrible conditions that he lived in at Robben Island, change was not easy. He writes, “I have always found change difficult, and leaving Robben Island, however grim it had been at times, was no exception.” Change is difficult for all of us at times. We get comfortable with where we are in life. We get used to the idea of our current situation. But complacency robs us of our fullest potential. It tells us that we are fine. Complacency says, “You could make more money and be more successful, but it is probably not worth the stress.” And so, we maintain our current situation. Looking back on the past year, where have you grown complacent? What would have been different had you pushed ahead for change?
While it is awesome when your employees buy in to your company’s culture and way of doing things, this buy-in can become a weakness. Employees start to believe that your way is the only way. This is especially true for employees who have only worked for your company. When you hear these employees say things like, “we have always done it this way,” you know you have a problem. Sam Walton was a big believer in experimentation. As he adapted new ideas, he forced his employees to adapt to change. I guess you could say that change became an important part of Wal-Mart’s culture. So as Wal-Mart grew, new ideas were adapted and old ideas were discarded. And Wal-Mart became a company of change. Yes, they experienced may growing pains. But management did not allow these growing pains to stop them. They made changes. And the company grew.