The behavioral psychologist’s words are ringing in my ears

A new book about habits
A new book about habits


The behavioral psychologist’s words from two days ago are still ringing in my ears. Long story short:

  • 90-minute flight, random pairing
  • a behavioral psychologist on his own for 18 years
  • looked to be in his mid to late fifties
  • worked for big-name consulting firm in Philly prior
  • was reading a book about habits
  • we talked about habits for 10 minutes
  • he concluded he should take his own advice more often

As a professional speaker, it was a golden moment to reinforce a life in a world class culture. One that can stand the test of time against the best in the world.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Jeff,

    But isn’t that the way it often goes? It is a whole lot easier to give others advice than to apply it to one’s own situation.

    While reading this, I was reminded of a summer temp job I did in college for the largest employer in Chattanooga at the time. I worked with a man whose title was the “resistance-to-change psychologist.” This huge company had gambled on going with WANG computers, as opposed to IBM. This psychologist was brought in to first help employees manage the change of going from no computers to using a computer. He stayed on permanently when WANG lost the computer platform battle to IBM and went under – the company gambled on the wrong brand. His job then became to help those employees he had just helped with change before to deal with now changing to a whole new computer platform. I was the “practical” person that helped them with the hands-on transition (here’s how to turn it on, etc.), while he was the one who sat in big circles, doing group therapy with 15 people at a time. He sat there a spouted words of wisdom that those employees embraced – ways to deal with the changes without allowing the changes to ruin them.

    What does this have to do with your story? Well, this psychologist told a great message to the classes, but he never knew how to apply it to his own life. His wife had recently left him, and so did his ability to handle change. He became a nervous, shaking, chain smoker (back in the day when smoking in the offices were allowed) and would self-medicate with alcohol after work. In his office, he would throw things around in random fits of anger, not knowing how to manage his life. Yet he was the one being paid to help others manage the change in their lives. It was a painful, ironic situation to watch.


  2. Bob, you paint an extraordinary picture.

    What is mind blowing is that the folks who hired this person allowed this to continue.

    There must have been so much disruption that the people who should have been leading the culture either weren’t aware (unacceptable, by some standards), or were aware and were too busy (insert a long list of real life challenges) to manage it.

    Every company has a culture, with sub-cultures that tier up (effectively or ineffectively) to the bigger culture.

    Culture is an organization’s most important asset. It happens by design or by default.

    The difference between the two is staggering.

  3. Well, the company was one that was so caught up in hierarchy that those above him would just look at the job that needed to be done and check it off as being done. They wouldn’t “lower” themselves down to get to know the situation.

    Notice I said that it was the largest company in Chattanooga at that time. That company is about 25% of that now, and a lot of the hierarchy has been whittled down with more accountability. That culture that used to be there with the attitude of “we’re so big that that we can do what we want” has been replaced with, “we work hard or our job will be gone.”

  4. Bob, am so grateful for you sharing your very real example from life.

    The devil doesn’t make us bad, he makes us busy.

    Leaders get so busy with so many competing priorities, and sprinkle in personal ambition and the corporate climb, and we have a recipe for corporate dysfunction.

    It’s pervasive, just as it is in our personal lives.

    This is why leadership starts at home. And why it’s so challenging. And why we stumble.

    Fall down seven. Get up eight.

    Hope you have an awesome Friday and that you inspire everyone with whom you come in contact.

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