Declining Performance - Why we ignore slow changes

Declining Performance - Why we ignore slow changes

Declining Performance was beautifully demonstrated to me this week.

Ignoring and accepting slow changes in performance or conditions are common human traits that we are all guilty of. It can be slow changes in our businesses, work environment, organizations we are part of, relationships or our health.

Declining Performance of the senses

Some 30 years ago, I noticed that my hearing was not as sharp as it had been. Higher pitched noises were difficult to hear. At the time in South Africa where I was living, the most common land-line telephone was called the “Cricket” phone because its ringing sound was almost identical to the chirp of the cricket insect. Often, I did not hear the phone ringing. I also had more difficulty hearing women’s voices than men’s. That’s dangerous for a married man and (at the time) a manager of a large, mainly female corporate department.

I eventually went to a doctor who looked at my reasonably athletic build, considered my age and said he knew what the problem was.

He didn’t bother to suggest hearing tests.

His very accurate diagnosis was that as I was in my 30s, seemed fit and had lived in Rhodesia or South Africa for most of my life, I would have spent many years in the military as part of my National Service. When told that I had been in the army, he said that the many hours on the rifle range spent firing hundreds of rounds through a variety of weapons, using hand grenades, mortars and being close to explosions had damaged my ears.

At that time, no one used any form of ear protection.

He said he saw hundreds of men my age with the same problem. There was no medical or surgical solution to the declining performance of my hearing.

I could either live with defective hearing or go to a hearing specialist and consider hearing aids.

At the tender young age of 35 or so, there was no way I was going to get hearing aids. They were for old people.

Hearing Aids

Declining Performance - Why we ignore slow changes

I failed to do anything about my hearing. Over the last few years, it has got worse. Unless I faced the person speaking, I missed more words than I heard. Sue complained that I had the TV or radio volume turned too high. Most of the time, I could not hear what my son Bryan, who speaks quietly, was saying.

At meetings, I had to strain to hear the speaker. Any background noise and I was lost.

I went for a hearing test.

The results confirmed that I had a serious loss of hearing and worse, my word recognition was even poorer than my ability to hear sounds.

Last week, I got my hearing aids.

They are not the top of the range, those cost as much as a reasonable used car and I don’t have medical insurance that would cover the cost. I got a mid-range model.

They are pure magic.

I cannot believe what a difference they have made. As I type this, I can hear the click of the keyboard. If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said that my keyboard was completely silent. When Bryan speaks in his normal voice I think he is shouting.

Why then do we ignore declining performance in our personal lives, our businesses, organizations we belong to? Why do we wait until it’s too late to fix the problem? Why do we waste valuable time making do instead of taking advantage of something that can make a huge difference to our lives?

Inertia, failure to accept the obvious, unrealistic hope, misguided faith and blind determination are all reasons.

Sometimes we do have to accept the inevitability of life.

The hearing aids taught me an important lesson this week. I wish I had accepted the need for them five or even ten years ago.

Are you tolerating a slow decline in performance in your business, your health, your senses or your enjoyment of life?

Do something about it.

This article appears in full on my website