“Once you STOP believing something is IMPOSSIBLE, You START believing it’s POSSIBLE.”
If you asked your boss four weeks ago if you could work from home, you might have heard:
“You can’t do your job from home. That’s impossible.”
Over the past few weeks, I have seen that thinking change. Drastically. Out of necessity.
- Building Inspectors are now doing home inspections via video.
- Theater Directors are continuing with rehearsals via Zoom.
- Physical Therapists are conducting evaluations over video.
- Customer Service Rep are responding to inquires from home.
And, a friend who owns a winery is doing a flight tasting by sending out few extra bottles of wine to their club members then getting everyone together via Zoom. Wine tasting over Zoom? Who would have thought.
Is it ideal? The Theater Director said, “It gets us about 65% there which is a whole lot better than nothing. But, with theater rentals being a big cost, this could be a game changer.” And while not all physical therapy appointments can be done at home, some can.
Will this change how we do business after shelter-in-place is relaxed? Let’s hope so. How can we take some of this crisis thinking and continue to apply it when things calm down?
Thinking more broadly and outside the proverbial “Box” doesn’t have to occur just during a crisis. In fact, it should occur constantly to keep us fresh, push us into new and innovative territories, and move us ahead of the competition. Just like any other skill, innovative thinking is like a muscle that can be strengthened.
Over the past year, I interviewed 100 CxOs, company founders, VC’s, and ultra-endurance athletes to understand how they think bigger and then how they take those seemingly impossible ideas across the finish line. The concept of E.P.I.C. Performances was formed with the “E” of E.P.I.C. being to Envision the big ideas you want to accomplish.
Below are three muscles successful envisioners have strengthened:
Develop a Time & Space to Dream
How many of you purposely find time to sit and dream? Can you imagine if your manager walked into your office and said, “Hey, what are you doing?” and you responded, “Just dreaming.” Chances are you would see this in your next Performance Review, and it wouldn’t be under the “Strengths” column. Focused or intentional dreaming can be an effective use of time. Find the right time and place to maximize your outcome.
Certain places in the house or office are more conducive to spurring creativity. And, certain times of the day, week, or month are better. Bill Gates used to take a week off work, go away by himself, and research specific topics. A CEO of a successful consulting company schedules lunch with herself twice a year and brings a notebook to write down ideas about what she wants to accomplish in the coming years. And, a colleague has a “Thinking Chair” where she can just sit and ‘intentionally dream’ on a specific topic.
ASK YOURSELF: When and where am I most likely to dream up big ideas? And, how can I build this into my routine?
Write Down those Big Ideas
When those ideas come, put them somewhere. A friend has a “Big Life Binder” where she files hers. Some are written on the back of a napkin, some on an airline barf bag, and some on a random piece of paper. It all depended on what was around when she got the idea. For most of my life, I have kept a note pad near my bed because some of my best ideas come between the time I close my eyes and just before I enter REM sleep. If I wait until the morning, it will have left my memory.
Then, I use Microsoft’s One Note to keep track of my dreams and goals. I am constantly thinking about new ideas or programs for my business to help my clients. And since I can’t do everything now, I write it down and then regularly go back and evaluate when and if I should proceed.
ASK YOURSELF: Where can I store my ideas and how often will I review that list?
The more innovative people I interviewed were curious. They were always asking themselves what is possible? They would think about a topic and wonder, what could be?
The founder of a company I worked for used to take time every few years and extrapolate trends in technology. He would consider Moore’s Law which indicates capacity of an integrated circuit doubling every two years and wonder how that could drive future technologies. If capacity or speed increased at that rate, what impact could that have on current products? His company eventually sold for 4 billion dollars.
So when a crazy idea is presented, instead of saying, “I can’t do that” consider asking, “How can I do that?”
ASK YOURSELF: What could be possible for me in the next ten years?
These ideas should be big. They should stretch you. They should make you nervous. If they don’t, you likely aren’t thinking big enough as I wrote in my blog Every Once In A While It’s Good To Be Nervous. I was working with one group who thought they came up with a really big idea when one person said, “Yeah, we can accomplish that.” Several others quickly agreed. I said, “You should probably think bigger.”
Thinking outside the box is much easier when the box has been blown up like it recently has been. So, how can you take your Crisis Out-Of-The-Box thinking and make it happen more frequently?
If you want a FREE assessment to see how well you perform in the five areas of E.P.I.C. Performance which involves Envisioning the big dreams, go to:
- Click on EPIC Performance Assessment
- Use Company Code: EPICBlog
It takes less than 10 minutes. From your report, you will see your strengths and development areas and be given ideas to improve.
When muscles are stretched further, they either 1) get stretch too far and break or 2) get stronger? What will happen to yours?