Fraud Prevention Tip #25: Resolve or Refer Suspicions

Uncertainty Makes The Elephant Anxious (and Gets in the Way of Better! Results) – Better! Results Tip #20

In their wonderful book “Switch: How to Lead Change When Change is Hard” (PLEASE go buy it right now!), brother-authors Chip and Dan Heath put their personal spin on the analogy of a rational rider attempting to lead a huge elephant in a new, unfamiliar but Better! direction. They teach us:

“Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”

 Ever wonder what makes the elephant nervous and default to comfortable low-results practices? One word: uncertainty.

Baby elephant bathing in the river, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

And that’s true whether it’s a six-ton pachyderm or the tiny elephant in our heads.

Yes, that’s right. We all have an elephant in our heads. The mental elephant is all of the inefficient and ineffective habits we’ve built over the years. The patterns of behavior we don’t even think about. The prejudices and irrational fears. It’s the knee-jerk reaction we have to uncomfortable situations we encounter as part of life – meeting new people, tight deadlines, trying new food, attempting new solutions to old problems, traveling to an unfamiliar location. Even electing a new president we know virtually nothing concrete about. The elephant wants to go with the rest of the herd – its peer group – to what it believes is a safe place even though it may know little about where the leader of the herd is headed.

Again from Switch:

“The Elephant’s hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment …”

 To which I respectfully add, “to think beyond the sound bite to research the facts.”

Depressed handsome man sitting in office

These are times of great uncertainty. Politically, economically, even spiritually. People are anxious, nervous and downright scared. Many are angry as well. Angry that they aren’t heard. Frustrated about the daily lies from so-called leaders. Scared of people who are ‘different’ from them with their different languages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and even different expressions of love.

Result: there are anxious elephants all around us, and we’re all at risk of getting trampled.

So what does the informed, self-aware, loving, giving human who is interested in Better! Results do? (That’s you, by the way.)

You bring calm to emotion-laden situations. Your bring truth based on researched facts to conversations. You allow that uncertainty makes us all nervous, but you embrace the role of leader and help others think Better!, decide Better!, and then act Better!

Above all else, you lead by example. The example of calm, informed, confident action every day.

Do these things, and then look over your shoulder. You’ll be leading the herd of anxious elephants. In a Better! brighter direction.

Learning to Embrace Change

Learning to Embrace Change

It’s human nature to seek out behaviors and paths where we find comfort, safety and routine. And once those routines are set, it can be very difficult to willfully change our ways. It’s a proven fact of human psychology: change causes anxiety. And anxiety causes us to resist new behaviors and maintain the safety of the ‘status quo’.

But here’s another unavoidable fact about change: it’s absolutely required for better results regardless of how you define them. When seeking goals in our personal or professional lives, changing our comfortable daily practices is a necessary but often daunting task. Learn to embrace change!

Growth and expansion require a willingness to change our habits. To replace what got us here with what’s needed to get us somewhere else. And although replacing comfortable habits may make us uncertain initially, we can counteract this unsettled feeling by being more conscious of the hundreds of changes we already make every day – without even thinking about them. Examples include:

Learning to Embrace Change

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• How you started a conversation this morning
• What you ordered for lunch
• The specific content of dozens of emails you send each day
• What you put in the cart at the grocery store
• Which TV channel you selected last evening
• What coat or shoes you’ll wear tomorrow depending on the weather forecast

These are just a few examples of our willingness to adapt to changing circumstances and our ‘mood of the moment’. Simple examples, to be sure. But they illustrate our pre-disposition to minor course corrections throughout our daily business and personal lives.

Now let’s jump to larger-scale habit changes needed to advance towards goals. If you’re looking to be more open to the possibilities that life provides, there are a few important factors that must be actively managed. Here are three.

• Plain Old Fear. Fear can be a powerful motivating force, but it can also be a major reason why we resist dropping habits that block our success. Change means embracing some uncertainty about outcomes, and uncertainty brings risk. Our fears instinctively kick in to protect us in uncertain situations. Acknowledging that fear is entering into our decision-making allows us to more effectively evaluate alternatives and choose a course of action.

Here’s a suggestion to help counteract fear. Take daily small steps. A sustained effort of small daily steps reduces anxiety. This approach allows us to evaluate results and adapt our approach easily. Keep your eye on the horizon- view of your goal. Know where you are ultimately headed. But take small steps initially to minimize fear-triggering uncertainty of change.

• Mental Roadblocks. We all give ourselves excuses for avoiding change. We doubt our abilities, question the likelihood of success, and believe we are generally fine with where we are today. Well, ‘Fine’ is the enemy of ‘Better’. ‘Comfortable’ is the roadblock to ‘Excited’ and ‘Fulfilled’. If you find yourself doubting your abilities, or questioning your comfort levels, you’re not alone. It’s important to remember that overcoming our personal and professional mental roadblocks allows us to see opportunity in every change, and remain open to new forms of success.

• Our Current Reality. We’ll all guilty of settling for the comfort and security of where we are right now. Existing habits have produced reasonable results with manageable risk. But that’s not a formula for goal achievement. Successful people who achieve their goals recognize that where they are right now – their current reality – is a great foundation to jump off to even greater heights. Our past is our past: no more, no less. Our past got us to our present, and our present is the springboard to our future. High achievers like you need to catch your breath, and then step up beyond the accomplishments of now to your goals of the future.

Once we realize change includes a heavy dose of opportunity for growth, it becomes easier to embrace change as something we must have to move forward, accomplish our dreams and exceed our goals.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”



transition anxiety

Transition Anxiety

We’re moving in a few weeks to an apartment that is about half the size of our current home. This move is consistent with what we both want: more flexibility, less debt, much more opportunity intellectually and for both of our small businesses, a potentially wider circle of friends, and most of all – the springboard to the next phase in our lives together.

There are so many positives that will come with this move. But there’s a great deal of uncertainty as well. Anxiety is what I think the mental health professionals might call it.

You see, we love where we live. The beautiful mountains of Colorado greet us every morning and provide cool nights for deep sleeping year round. Sunshine and minimal humidity are the norm. And we have nested moving to denvercomfortably in the home we completed and decorated together.

On the flip side, we face between 6 and 10 hours each week just driving to and from the Denver airport. That’s a full productive day lost every week year round just sitting in the car. In addition, last winter’s storms were brutal for highway driving, and the constant construction delays the rest of the year have finally worn us down.

So we move. Towards something…Better!

That’s my favorite word. Better!

Moving Towards Better

We all face transitions every day. Most are small – meetings, schedules, decisions, new tasks at work and at home. Many of us – perhaps you – are in the midst of major transitions as well. New jobs, new cities, new families, new life responsibilities.

At a recent conference, we were discussing why it is so hard to make decisions and take action – especially when those decisions and actions have a high likelihood of making things Better! The discussion leader cut to the better lifechase and reminded us of what we all knew in our gut – that for humans the most comfortable path is the status quo.

Certainly there is comfort in the familiar and certain in our lives. And changes both small and large can bring equal layers of tension and anxiety. Uncertainty about the future will do that. Especially if you are blessed as we are with a wonderful home life in a beautiful setting as a starting point.

But change is necessary for growth. My wonderful bride Kris and I know that, so we are pushing forward together towards what we know is simply…Better!

What Changes Do You Know You Need to Make?

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA







John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.

Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”