The Power of Have-To Myths

You’ve heard of the importance of a stop-doing list – that list of programs, processes, and initiatives that we’re going to stop doing.

It’s a brilliant way to minimize initiative overload.

On the other hand, there is a power at play when we aren’t clear about the have-tos.

Have-To Myths

Have-to myths spread just as most contagions do – from person to person. They are rarely transmitted in single mass actions.

They spread, and then they take hold.

The power of the have-to myth is how deeply it can persist in a small group. When that group develops a pattern of behavior around the idea they “have to do it” all of your communication is warped into the context of the myth.

For example,

We have to have this form completed and filed. Even though it takes an inordinate amount of time and has no impact on learning, we must complete it and keep it on file. No one ever checks it, but we must do it.

In reality, you gave the form to your instructional leadership team, and they passed it to team leaders. A single team leader thought it was a mandate, and the myth began.

Its roots were established, and the team believes the myth. They believe it because they’re trying to do what’s right. They also believe the myth was established by you.

Secret Powers

The difficulty of these myths, is you are unaware of them. Otherwise, you’d clear them up.

The have-to myth has the power to drain. It can drain:

  • energy
  • efficiency
  • willingness to change
  • flexibility

And no one is trying to drain these things. It’s not a conscious effort. It’s not stubbornness.

It’s merely a byproduct. It’s a secret power at play draining effectiveness.

And this is the unintended side effect of a lack of clarity.






One response to “The Power of Have-To Myths”

  1. […] are many pressures that resist change. Chief among them is the conformity […]