18 is the Magic Number

Watch the video of this post.

Listen to the podcast of this post.

I was talking to Rick, a new experienced hire in our global consulting company.  Rick was my new boss.  I was asked to be his 'integration buddy.'  Help him learn the ropes to get up to speed fast.

I told him there were typically five things an experienced hire needed to learn to succeed at the firm.  

Eagerly he asked, "what are those five things?"

I looked at him.  Smiled.  

And gave him a very standard consulting answer.

"It depends."

You see, each experienced hire is different.  They bring in unique skills.  Typically, new hires expect that the organization will embrace those unique skills with wonder and awe.  

It just doesn't happen that way.

Organizations have unique cultures.  Norms.  Core and Secondary Values.  A new hire must navigate these unwritten rules to succeed.  And usually, there's around five things that a new hire has to unlearn from their previous experience and relearn to succeed in the new environment.

New hires usually committed about five cultural faux pas before they started to get things 'right.'

The same is true for you.

What new environment are you facing?  What transformation are you engaging?  What life transition are you making?  Did you make a New Year's Resolution?

If you are committed to something transformational in your life, be on the lookout for five new things to learn.  They'll take you by surprise.  They'll clip you in the heels, trip you up and you'll probably fall.  They could drain your motivation.

Here's my sage advice.  

Make mistakes fast.  Bounce back.  Take the next step.

Okay, so that's part one of my advice to experienced new hires.  Know you have 5 steep learning curves to face.  Get up and move on.

The next question Rick asked me was:  "How long does it typically take to 'learn the ropes' here?"

"Great question!"

And my answer is true for Rick or for anyone starting anything new.  And it's NOT "It depends."

You might be surprised.  My answer is actually quite simple


It typically takes 18 months to get up to speed in anything new.  You have to learn new things, but learning isn't enough.  You then must put that learning in motion by establishing a rhythm.  

When I was starting my Wisdom 4 Humanity Blog Post, I faced all sorts of barriers.  With no rhythm, I was constantly stressed about writing my blog post for the week.  Rain or shine.  Sickness or health.  At home or On the Road.  I'm happy to say that over 2 years and 4 months, I've written my blog post EVERY WEEK!

I get kudos from colleagues, lauding my persistence, but NOW it's not hard because I have RHYTHM!

If you start something new, 18 months is the magic number.

  • Starting a monthly program?
  • Starting a new project?
  • Starting a weekly exercise routine?
  • Starting at a new company?
  • Starting to homeschool your children?

Whatever you're starting, 18 months is the magic number.

In my 40 years of studying organizations, the magic number of 18 comes up over and over again.  When I researched newcomers in organization for my Master's thesis, 18 months was often cited as the time it takes to 'learn the ropes.'  In my early consulting career, we implemented Quality Circles and they were institutionalized for at least 18 months – enough time to 'cultivate the benefits.'  Just last week in a Q&A session, a participant asked one of the highest paid business coaches on the planet how long they should stick with something before they give up and pivot to something else.  You KNOW what he said.

18 months.

Did you know that "18" in Chinese means wealth and prosperity.

Yep, I'll side with ancient Chinese Wisdom!

The Magic Number is 18 

Learn Deeply!


Thank you for Subscribing to our Weekly Broadcast