How to Never Fall for the Check the Box Syndrome!

This Week’s Focus Point

By Dr. Jason Carthen

During a recent planning session for one of my coaching clients, I was reminded of just how important it is to go after things that appear to be out of your reach. During this particular coaching session, I asked them to consider a stretch goal, but the client’s thoughts kept going back to what they had always done and for good reason…it was safe. However, I explained to them the risk vs. reward in this circumstance needed to change in order for them to move forward. In other words, they could no longer expect the same high returns with the same identical effort.

Many times in our lives we need to do a hard self-check to remember our goals and dreams. This hard self-check enables us to throw out our love for the status-quo and realign ourselves with our youthful dreams and adult sized goals! When we are actively going after our dreams sustained by hope and optimism, it is amazing how much we can get accomplished.
You see, there is a small distance between existing and thriving, but one that we can never overcome unless we are intentional. When you are merely existing, status-quo is what I like to call “check the box syndrome” or not stretching yourself, playing it safe, or just meeting the requirements. When you begin to “Thrive” you actually move toward things that require a release of your comfort level and banishing of self-doubt.

Today, this month and going forward, make a choice to do something that you have always wanted to do, but were simply afraid to try. Once you begin to make this a habit, it will become second nature for you to assess if you are simply “checking the box” or moving toward your ability to thrive.

Pick a goal that you know you can reach, and then double it! How does it make you feel?

2 thoughts on “How to Never Fall for the Check the Box Syndrome!

  1. Hi Dr. Jason –

    Thanks for this insightful post on visioning beyond present circumstances. Little if any doubt exists that recasting challenges and associated answers to something other than the routine will work to move organizations forward.

    However, as I was reading the story you presented in the first paragraph, I had to wonder how many of those people “heard you” on a values-based level. Sure, they heard the words coming out of your mouth; and, intellectually they understood what you said. They may have even believed the words, but I don’t think their reluctance to change was as simple as “… it was safe.” Specifically, Schein (1984) suggested that over time, members of organizations develop deep-seated, taken for granted values (assumptions) regarding ways to deal with challenges associated with internal integration and external adaptation. It Schein’s theory proves true, how much of an effect would anyone actually have in changing members’ deep-seated, cultural assumptions; by standing in front of them and sharing the results of a cost benefits analysis? I suggest that even if they bought into your version of the truth (with their “head knowledge”), most of them would still likely revert to the way things used to be, because they know their collective version of the truth with “heart knowledge.” Please take a look at my associated LinkedIn post:

    Schein, E. H. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture. Sloan Management Review, 25(2), 3-16.

    • Greetings Dr. West,
      Thank you for this salient comment and narrative.I appreciate how you make the linkage between value-based understanding and subsequent action. Your point is well taken, and I believe it points to a greater challenge of making sure they are able to make the leap and have a heart change, rather than just the head knowledge. I will take a look at your article and Thanks again for your comment!

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