In 2002, a new drug for treating asthma called Xolair was released into the market. The company behind the drug, Genetech, was expecting high sales for Xolair because it was proven to be effective in preventing asthma attacks.
But after six months, Xolair just wasn’t selling. Genentech needed to make a change, so they hired consultants to find a solution.
Now, you might think that the consultants came in and starting analyzing the sales copy, or the packaging, or some other trivial aspect of the product, but you would be wrong. The consultants instead, immediately started looking for any instances where Xolair was selling. What they found were two sales people in Texas who were selling twenty times more Xolair than any one else in the company.
After a little digging, the consultants discovered that these two sales people were doing so well because their approach to selling was fundamentally different than anyone else’s. Xolair had to be administered through an intravenous drip, which was out of the ordinary for asthma drugs. So instead of selling the benefits, which most people already understood, these two sales people were educating their prospects on how to administer the drug. It was a small change, but an effective one.
Now that the problem was solved, all Genetech had to do was scale this solution, and show all of their sales people this same method of selling through demonstration.
But, they didn’t.
Genetech management was skeptical of the results, and they saw the two Texas sales people as anomalies that couldn’t be replicated. So instead of scaling the solution, they did nothing and Xolair sales continued to struggle.
Do you see the problem here?
This company found the exact solution to their problem, but for whatever reason, refused to accept it.
You’re Making the Same Mistake
When you want to change something in your life, what’s the first thing you usually do? Chances are, your first reaction is to try and figure out what you’re doing wrong. You focus on the negatives and try and prevent the bad stuff from happening.
Say for instance, you’re constantly late to appointments, and you want to change that. You would probably say to yourself, “WHY CAN’T I EVER BE ON TIME!?!”. And you would focus on every time you’ve been late, trying to see what you could do differently.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try and figure out what you’re doing wrong. But I am saying it’ll be easier if you focus on what you’re already doing right.
How to Create Change in Your Life
Dan and Chip Heath mentioned the story of Xolair in their book, Switch, when they talk about “bright spots”. A bright spot is a successful effort worth emulating. The philosophy is that, when you’re looking to create change, you simply identify what’s working, and then you find out how to do more of it. The two Texas sales people would be considered bright spots.
The next time you find yourself trying to change something in your life, instead of banging your head against the wall in frustration, focus on finding the bright spot. Look for that time when you successfully did whatever it is you wanted to do, and from there, your job is to find out how you can recreate those same circumstances on a consistent basis.
Bright spots work so well for creating change because they show you what to do and how to act.
Bright Spots Work In Many Situations
This idea of emulating what’s already working is so powerful because it’s not just limited to one area of your life. You can really apply this concept to any change you’re trying to make.
Business: Have your last few hires not worked out? Look for instances where you hired amazing candidates.
Relationship: Are you and your significant other always arguing? Think to a time where you guys handled conflict in a positive way.
Parenting: Are you kids misbehaving and not listening? When was the last time they did listen to you? What did you do to make that happen?
Career: Are you starting to lose excitement at work? Well, think a time where you were excited, and recreate the same scenario.
Health: Are you struggling getting to the gym? Think back to the last time you actually went and figure what you did to get there.
You Can Copy Other People’s Bright Spots
Here’s what’s even more amazing about the bright spot philosophy. You can find bright spots in other people’s lives, and emulate that too.
You have a friend who lost a bunch of weight and packed on muscle? Do what he did. You know someone who just landed their dream job? Do what she did. You know some parents whose kids behave amazingly well? Do what they did.
You really don’t even have to know the person, just go out there and find anyone who’s shared their story of success, and followed a path that you can realistically follow yourself.
So if you’ve been wondering how to create change in your life, this is it. You don’t need some big fancy solution. Just find out what’s working, and do more of it.