The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
In business we shoot for that shortest distance – efficiency, peak performance, smarter not harder.
But, in life we know the best experiences are often off the beaten path, the long way around.
In business we aim for a well-oiled machine. Predictability.
Yet, in life we often long for more spontaneity and less routine.
I get it. Structure and predictability are good for the bottom line and they help you sleep at night. But we must recognize that over time routine breeds complacency. We become so comfortable in the safety of the routine we stop actively paying attention and easily fall into the trap of, it’s always been done this way. With that kind of justification, your work/business will land in the rut of yesterday with no innovation, no creative problem solving and no eye to the future. Stuck. You need to ditch the routine and find a way out.
I’m not advocating for chaos. That’s no way to run a business (or your life), but there are some simple tricks for shaking things up a bit. What if you got off the main highway and took a few unscheduled stops along the way? What if you approached Monday – Friday more like Saturday and Sunday?
You relax the structure?
You let go of the tried and true?
You brainstorm a new project with the newest, least experienced person in your company?
You ignore the data and follow your intuition?
You travel the winding road without trying to straighten it out?
You start at the end and work backwards?
You try analogue instead of digital?
You extend the deadline?
You give yourself a crazy, unrealistic deadline? Like 6 weeks instead of 6 months?
You go for a walk or take the afternoon off instead of powering through?
You approach the problem like a fascinating riddle instead of aggressively attacking it like the enemy?
You only consider one solution instead of investigating three?
You say yes to every request for one day?
You say no to every request for one day?
You take the novice’s approach? The novice doesn’t know the rules or expectations or what’s impossible.
You play the long game instead of shooting for the short-term win?
You ask questions then listen to the answers without offering your own opinion?
You trust yourself enough to ________ ? (fill in the blank)
Pick one. Or three. Are you adventurous enough to give it a try? Just once?
If you looked at that list and adamantly declared, No Way, you might want to ask yourself why. I’ll bet when you drill down to the root cause, it’s one of two things:
1. You’re scared. Fear comes in all shapes, sizes and intensities and it’s a sneaky little bastard. What exactly are you afraid of? Failing? Looking silly? Succeeding (which might force you to question your comfortable assumptions)?
2. You don’t care enough to be bothered.
I hope you’re scared. It’s easier to fix. There’s a lifetime’s worth of tricks, methods and philosophies at your fingertips. Just search, “How to Overcome My Fears” and pick your favorite. I subscribe to the School of Worse Case Scenarios. I go straight to the worse thing I can imagine happening then I ask myself two questions: What’s the actual likelihood of this happening? What emergency plan do I have in place to mitigate the worse case?
If you just don’t care enough. Welp. Are you bored? Afflicted with a case of Bad Attitude Syndrome? Please, allow me to get a little preachy. Are you listening? Because you need to hear this. You have a choice! Maybe you don’t have the luxury of changing your work, but you absolutely get to choose how you approach it. Make better choices. For yourself.
So, I’ll ask again: Are you adventurous enough to give it a try? Just once?
This article first appeared in The Unmistakable Effect, August 2018