Vail Daily column: Committed to change |

Vail Daily column: Committed to change

Michael Norton
Climbing to Success

So the other day I received an email from a local merchant who shared their initial experiences with trying to make a change in their business based on some of the information they had found in my previous columns.

They were particularly focused on creating a positive work environment where people felt empowered and respected, and where customers felt appreciated. Their goal was to reduce turnover of staff and increase customer loyalty. They knew that if they really wanted to experience different results, the changes would have to start at the top, meaning the ownership would have to change the way they ran the business.

I love reading the emails that you all send, and as I began reading this particular email I was initially so encouraged by the owners intent to truly make a change in their business. That feeling of encouragement was quickly replaced with concern as I continued to read the rest of the story.

You see, they took the first step by deciding they wanted to change. They even identified the things they wanted to change and improve. The ownership started to demonstrate a new attitude fueled by a more positive outlook. They shared with me that they even stopped using curse words in the business to try and clean up everyone’s colorful use of language.

If we are to experience true change in anything that we do, we cannot give up after the very first challenge that comes our way.

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In the words of the owner, the problem was that, “This whole positive approach just doesn’t work. We tried it, and it just doesn’t work.”

Sadly the rest of the email spoke to the fact that employee turnover was higher than ever, and they felt like they were treading water with customers and maybe even losing some of their business. So the final question in the email was this, “So now that we know the positive approach doesn’t work, what other bright ideas do you have?” A little snarky, a little sarcastic, but I sensed they really wanted help.


As we exchanged emails and had a chance to speak with the owners by telephone, I was able to find out what had really happened. They tried the positive approach for only one day. That’s right, one day. At the first sign of conflict or interaction with an employee or customer where things went bad, they immediately reverted to their old habits and comfort zone of responding negatively and even a little, or maybe a lot, in a combative way.

If we are to experience true change in anything that we do, we cannot give up after the very first challenge that comes our way. We have to be committed to the change we want to see and experience in our personal and our professional lives. It took that business owner 15 years to build a company and a culture filled with adversity and conflict, and they expected a change to happen in one day.

How many people could say the same thing about a relationship they are in where it is based on adversity, negativity and conflict? The same thing would hold true, a quick change without a commitment to change and a commitment to results, would end poorly with both sides giving up.

Habits are hard to break, sometimes we are so set in our ways that they become hard to change. And many of us may have tried for a day or maybe even a week to make a change and just like our business owner, we gave up or caved in at the first sign of trouble or difficulty. If we want to truly change something in our lives or something about ourselves, we must make a commitment to that change.

How about you? Can you look beyond the events and circumstances of today to see a better tomorrow for yourself? Are you able to be committed to the change you want to see and experience? I would love to hear all about it at, and when we can make that level of commitment, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach, and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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