BRIEFING #4: History Does NOT Repeat Itself | PPI Global

“History does not repeat itself.  People repeat history.”

It’s been written about and generally accepted for centuries that…history repeats itself.

Polybius (ca. 200-118BC), an early Roman historian, was one of the first to proclaim this observation.

And look around…

Consider the rise (and subsequent fall) of empires, the shifting of global wealth from east to west…and back to the east.  And in US politics…well, I’m just sayin’…

The truth? 

History does NOT repeat itself.  People DO (however) tend to repeat history.

And this ‘tendency’ is acutely present today in the realms of safety and human error reduction.

Think about it…

You have a couple of hand injuries so you schedule more hand safety training (for the fifth or sixth time).  A couple of mispositions occur, so (after deciding who you’re going to ‘whack’) you hold a work stand down and TELL everyone to, “follow the rules!” (for the fifth or sixth time).

And, of course, there’s the [new] data base…it’ll surely tell you where the problems lie!

While such actions [generally] have the best of intentions, there’s enough history available to validate that when taking them you’re bordering on the insane (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results)

So…what to do?

If you’ve been paying attention to this BRIEFING series, you’re already aware that (1) you need to think and act differently (in the Third Dimension), (2) when you do it right, you get a huge positive ROI, and (3) HOW you implement (your marketing) is critical.

Culture determines results. 

Next-level performance requires a next-level culture.  A next-level culture is achieved through next-level behaviors.  Getting from here to there requires…change.

There is a common misconception that people resist change.  This is simply not true.  Think about weekends and vacations.  We LIKE these because they offer a change from our normal routines.

So, if people do not resist change itself, why do they often seem so negative/resistant when presented with new initiatives?

There are two things that people DO resist:

(1) confusion, and

(2) a loss of sense of control


Workers are often confused when an implementation looks, feels, ‘smells’ like, “that same thing they tried [three years] ago.”  After all, if it didn’t work then, why would it work now?  This is “program du jour” syndrome.

Workers also get confused when they sense any of the following:

(1) Inconsistency

(2) Lack of clarity

(3) Lack of congruency

(4) Lack of accountability

THE POINT:  A confused mind says, “no”.

Loss of Sense of Control

Here’s a simple experiment you can try right now:  Find a friend or co-worker who will play along.  Have them sit in a chair facing you with their hands raised to shoulder height, palms facing toward you.  Place your hands palm-to-palm with theirs.  Ask them if they are ready, and then give a sudden moderate push against their hands.  How do they respond?

99.9% of people will immediately resist / push back.

When they do so, ask them why they pushed back.  Their response will undoubtedly be, “Because you pushed on me.”

When pushed upon (read this also as “forced to do something”), it is human nature to… push back.  And yet, we cannot figure out why people resist when we tell them to, “Do this…because I said so…because I’m the boss!”

THE POINT: When you push on someone, they’re going to push back.

Pursuing your next-level…

When stressed or confronted with challenge, it’s a natural tendency to resort to what you already know.  This is how people repeat history.

The beginning of wisdom lies in recognizing what you don’t know, and then in expanding your awareness, understanding, and…actions.

It is counterintuitive, but when you approach your initiatives from the perspective of what’s in it for them, make it fast simple and easy, ensure there is no confusion, and then open the door and invite people to step through it, you will have their attention.

Do it right, and you’ll have their cooperation.

The next step is to get them to “own” it.  That will be the topic of your next BRIEFING.

Please offer your questions / comments below.

Until next time,


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