Three Ways to Step Out of Your Box

How many times have you limited your options, and your impact, because you assumed something wasn’t possible? People used to think running a 4-minute mile was impossible . . . until Roger Bannister did it in 1954. Once Bannister proved it was possible, more than 1400 people have achieved that milestone. How many creative solutions, that we would have considered unrealistic three years ago, have people implemented to address the challenges they have faced as a result of the pandemic?

You will never accomplish something you don’t think is possible.

And here’s the really tricky part . . . the more “expertise” you have, the more you tend to put artificial limits around yourself and your organizations. When you have been recognized for doing things in a particular way, it is really difficult to discard “what works” for a totally different approach that may or may not yield the expected results. That’s why the most unique solutions rarely come from the industry leaders . . . those people who have found success based on old rules and self-imposed perspectives of how things are done. It is the upstarts, who aren’t bound by what has worked in the past, who can see totally new and different possibilities.

So how you you step our of your self-imposed box and expand your perspective of what is possible? Three suggestions:

1. Read outside your industry or typical areas of interest.

Learning about what worked in manufacturing may spur an idea for your human service organization. Are there translatable lessons in how an entrepreneur from another country overcame an “insurmountable” barrier? Have you considered the approach that someone from a younger generation or different cultural background is using and is it relevant to your work? You’ll never know, you are only consuming information from people who basically think like you do.

2. Ask questions . . .

. . . Of your customers, your front-line staff, people in a totally different line of work. And then, instead of immediately pushing back against their feedback, get curious. “Help me understand . . .” is a great way to dig deeper and get a better appreciation for where they are coming from. Even if a particular suggestion seems unrealistic, it may open the doors for you to consider a different approach than you otherwise would have.

3. Keep moving.

Change is constant. Even the most perfect solution in this moment in time may not be tomorrow. Therefore, when something changes, that does not mean the way you have approached it in the past is bad or wrong. It simply means that the variables are different. Success comes not in reaching a destination, but the on-going journey. Change is much easier to embrace when you see change as part of the process rather than an inditement of how you have done something in the past.

You will never accomplish something you don’t think is possible. How are you boxing yourself in?

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