It isn't normal, is it?

The Melbourne Cup is a celebration in Australia. It not only stops the nation when the race is run, it stops the state of Victoria for a whole week and makes every mug across the country horse racing expert for a few days. The race has spawned a whole week of horse racing and even has its own website and even its own memorabilia.

The stories about horses, the trainers, the jockeys and the owners grace the newspapers for days. We want to emulate the punter who won $107k with a $1 mystery bet. Celebrities jump when invited. Wannabe celebrities parade along with the horses. And Joe Blow provides the human backdrop required to make it all work – until the alcohol takes it toll…

It is a tradition. It is just a bit of harmless fun.

Or, maybe not…

Maybe it is state-sanctioned gambling promotion? Could it be that the State sees it as an opportunity to make a buck off other people’s misery while they are drunk and think they are having fun?

We don’t hear the stories about the hundreds of horse that lost. We don’t even hear much about the horse that dies trying to win. (‘Euthanised’ according to the media, not killed or put down, I may add.)

We will hear about the total amount that is bet on the Cup, but we are not told what amount is lost. We don’t hear about the guy who loses his house or commits suicide because of bets lost.

This is not sanctimonious rant.

It is not even about gambling – that is just an example to illustrate the very important psychological fact contained it the headline: Do it often enough and become normal.

This can be used for good or for evil. You can pick on which side of the fence you fall, but consider these examples:

  • Is it still strange to see to men kiss in a movie/ TV-show?
  • Is it still offensive to hear God’s name taken in vain?
  • Does it look wrong when you see an inter-racial couple?
  • Is talking on the phone in other people’s company still rude?
  • Is it still wrong for a woman to wear pants?
  • Is it ok to arrive late for a meeting?

I could go on, but you see where this is going: The more you are exposed to something the more normal it becomes.

In your store this manifests itself as store blindness. You don’t see, hear and smell what your customers see, hear and smell because you have become used to it.

You learn to accept …

  • Shrinkage is about 3%
  • Staff are lazy and unmotivated
  • Suppliers can be paid a few days late
  • Reps can be made to wait an hour or so

Again, you can see where this is going.

Are the things you accept as normal really normal? Does it have to be the way that it is? Is it possible to create anew normal?

Here is an example of Mr Dib - who did NOT accept the status quo and chose a new normal.

Is it just possible that you could pull a ‘Mr Dib’ on your employees? Can you imagine the impact on your business?


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