The expression “Thinking Outside The Box, " has become a catch phrase in our busy world. Innovation and creativity generally comes from taking a different perspective, perhaps even going against the norm. The other end of the spectrum would be finding yourself in a rut, always doing or thinking in the same way. You may have some habits which have served you well, but perhaps they are habits which have created “1 channel" thinking for you. This is where you stay on the same channel to deal with all situations.
In business to be successful you need to establish what works but also be willing to change as internal and external factors evolve. This means moving from only one channel to having many different channels as options.
Here are 3 suggestions for creating different perspectives:
1. Take a Vacation
This may sound rather self-indulgent but the fact is allowing yourself some distance from your normal routine creates a change in perspective. Think back to when you last took a break from your job. Were you able to let go of your work and enjoy your vacation time? Did you find yourself involved in the place that you were visiting, the people you were with, and the activities you engaged in? If so chances are you returned to work rested, re-energized, and probably having some fresh thoughts on challenges you are having.
Now it is true that you can't necessarily take a vacation every time you want an alternative viewpoint. However, you can create breaks during which you are doing something completely different. It might be going for a walk, gardening, yoga, or taking a dance class. Even these small things allow you the opportunity to clear your mind and then move forward with a new view.
Have you ever watched school children learning the skill of brainstorming? It is wonderful to behold as they are taught that all ideas are welcome and written down. As adults we sometimes tend to censor our ideas, perhaps worried about what others think or believing that there is no chance for the idea to be implemented. This can serve to inhibit creative juices.
Brainstorm with yourself, writing down all your ideas and thoughts. Don't cross anything off and no editing as you go. Then put the paper away and revisit it in a couple of days or weeks. Notice the wisdom and brilliance in some of your ideas.
Invite your team and/or colleagues to brainstorm options. Encourage them to think big. Don't censor any ideas and be inclusive. Consider involving support staff as they may have a totally different view point which could be invaluable. Act as if anything is possible. You never know what gems will emerge when you are open to hearing all ideas.
3. Conversations With a Mentor, Consultant or Friend
If you find yourself stuck thinking in the same way, it is time to broaden your context. Take the opportunity to present your challenges and roadblocks to someone who is not close to the situation.
Matt was a manager who was having difficulty dealing with a team member who was quite negative and frequently sabotaged team meetings by criticizing everything. He had tried several different ways to deal with this individual but found himself repeating the same things over and over and getting no results. Matt discussed the situation with a friend who worked in a different industry but also managed a team. He asked Matt questions that got him thinking in a different way. This led to his coming up with new ways to tackle the situation.
It is important to have people you can bounce ideas off of and who can guide you. Encourage them to ask you questions and make suggestions. Being open allows for growth and change to occur.
In order to create a different perspective try:
Copyright 2008, Gail Solish. All rights reserved.
Gail Solish, provides Executive/Personal coaching to managers, directors and executives focused on workplace development and relationship management.
Claim your FR-EE e-course “Unleash Your Potential and Increase Productivity and Fulfillment" at http://www.ActualizeYourGoals.com