Can you teach yourself to avoid doing the obvious?

philmckinney | April 9, 2012

Article

Get beyond the rules and assumptions

Escape From Our Past

The problem that that many businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and would-be innovators suffer from is our inability escape from our past. Simply put, we are all shaped by our past experiences, whether good or bad. We look at the end results of these experiences—“this idea worked”; “this idea failed”— and consciously or unconsciously turn these results into the rules by which we operate in the present. Sometimes these rules, or assumptions, are smart and valuable. However, the problems begin when we forget that these rules are a snapshot of an old paradigm or set of circumstances. In many cases, the world has moved on, but we are still clinging to the “obvious” ideas that were once true in the rapidly receding past. In order to progress, we need to learn to identify and ignore these “obvious” rules, ideas, or beliefs, and make room for future where the rules are constantly being rewritten.

Power of Questions

The core to my approach to “see differently” and to break-away from our past is to ask questions.  I’ve been fascinated by the power of questions, either good or bad, for my entire professional life. The more I thought about them, the more I began to notice how people used them. I started to see how some people had the innate ability to formulate and pose questions that propelled others to make investigations and discoveries of their own.

Great Questions

To avoid the obvious, ask great questions.  A great question is one that causes people to really think before they answer it, and one that reveals answers that had previously eluded them.

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