“The only real voyage of Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” ~ Marcel Proust
There is a fabulous bakery in my town. The sandwiches are fantastic and the pastries are to die for. One of the things that makes the bakery so special is that it is in a wonderful old church that used to be the Unitarian Fellowship. One day I was having tea with a woman who attends the Unitarian Fellowship. She was looking around the beautifully decorated bakery, commenting on how amazing it was that a different perspective changed a run-down old building into a bright, inviting space. The fellowship members had met for years discussing how to solve problems like no air conditioning, too small bathrooms and poor lighting – all to no avail. The new owners found creative solutions for all of those issues and more.
This conversation prompted my thinking about the importance of fresh perspectives in business. We all have stuck places – where we clearly see the problems, shortcomings or issues but we can’t figure out how to change, fix or get around them. It doesn’t matter if you are frustrated by finding new referrals, wanting to create a different business model, struggling to delegate more or trying to get to the next level, finding a solution and seeing the opportunities requires looking at the situation with new eyes.
To create new eyes, you have to think outside the box. It is challenging for many of us to think outside the box because from an early age we are trained to stay inside the box. We are told to color inside the lines, stay in our seat, raise our hand to speak, follow the rules and stand in a single file line. Using imagination, asking hard questions, speaking your truth and challenging the “rules” is strongly discouraged.
Brainstorming is an excellent way to push your thinking outside of the box. Make a list of all the ways you could solve your issue. Of course you’ll start with the practice ones and the ones you have already tried. Go ahead, write them down. But then use your imagination and get really creative – the more impractical and crazy, the better. This exercise will open you up to different levels of possibilities and expand your perspective.
Detach yourself from the situation. Often we have difficulty seeing solutions, recognizing opportunities or identifying the next step because we are too involved in the situation. Our emotions and perceived limitations blind us. Have you ever helped a friend through an issue where you could see the opportunity clearly and the solution was obvious? That’s because you are emotionally detached and can see past fear into the opportunity of the next step. There are always opportunities present in every situation. Step out of the negative emotions for a moment. How would you be looking at this situation if you were helping your best friend? What would you say to them? What opportunities and/or solutions do you see?
Get a fresh perspective. Find someone you trust who is creative and has some solid knowledge about the issues around which you are stuck. I’m sure that the owners of the bakery didn’t know anything about air conditioning electrical work or re-configuring bathroom space. They consulted people who are creative and skilled in coming up with solutions based on the unique needs of a space. Without relying on outside expertise, I’m certain they would have been stuck trying to do business in a building with no air conditioning, poor lighting and awkward bathroom space.
So stop beating your head against the wall, step back, take a breath, detach from the negative emotions, get creative and look at the situation with new eyes. You’ll be surprised at what is really possible when you change your perspective.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.