Change is a constant and the faster we can adjust the more successful we will be. As an executive coach, I challenge people to face their assumptions head on and learn to think expansively. It’s like taking off the blinders, expanding the screen to a 180 degree perspective, having the sight of a drone, or going deep and wide in an instant.
Thinkers like this are not only productive but profitable and prolific. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Aaron Levie- CEO of Box are just a few modern day examples of leaders who blew the lid off limitations.
Here are 3 quick techniques for you to do the same.
Challenge Assumptions – What I don’t mean here is to argue every point. What I do mean is to seek information before building on your own beliefs. It’s human tendency to speculate, to make meaning of things. Often, we tend to assign meaning before we really understand what is happening, yielding mediocre to poor results. Combat this by challenging your own assumptions, and the “accepted norms” of leading. For instance, assuming people you lead naturally understand what you are asking of them often cripples execution. Verify that your message is getting through by asking great questions. Challenge yourself to find new, great questions everyday. (Scroll to the bottom of the blog to download a great question sheet!).
“If you don’t go to every level of your company, you distance yourself from the marketplace and from your people.” – Aaron Levie, CEO Box.
Embracing paradox –. A paradox is a way of thinking bi-laterally or at two opposite ends of a spectrum. Today’s business climate is like predicting the weather, and forecasting in the Information Age spotty at best.
Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Power of Habit: The Secret of Being Productive in Life found the winning formula for the world’s best thinkers: “Force yourself to think about contradictory possibilities, what is more likely and why. You’ll make much better decisions.”
This is not a new idea. Centuries ago Lao Tzu stated “All behavior consists of opposites. Learn to see things backward, inside out, and upside down.
Embrace the instability that is today’s business landscape by practicing both/and over either/or for more options to solving a problem. Not only does exploring opposite sides of an issue expand options but the exercise grooms you for adaptive thinking. “The test of first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opportunities in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”. F.Scott Fitzgerald.
Mindset of expansion – Get uncomfortable. Get curious. Seek don’t immediately judge. In order to embrace the ambiguity that comes with our rapidly changing market place, a leader must be able to react quickly to all the options. One of the first steps to adapting to rapid decision making is as simple as becoming comfortable with discomfort. The other is to become passionately curious, hungering to expand your abilities, learn more, and challenge yourself. As a leader, intellectual humility (admitting you don’t know what you don’t know) coupled with passionate curiosity must be the norm. This may require you to embrace risk and failure as uncomfortable as it may seem. Accept that you may not know all there is to know and strive to find out more and adapt quickly because new challenges are incoming, whether you’re ready or not.
Check out this downloadable question form you should be using to break down barriers!