Learning Nugget 26 - Become Limitless
"You are only limited by your deeply held assumptions and your regulated behaviour" – Chris Luxford
Through out many of our learning nuggets we have discussed how our biases and assumptions play havoc with our ability to unleash our true potential. Our regulated behaviours do the same. Often we find ourselves thinking we can’t do this, or we can’t do that, or the organisation won’t let us, or can’t even if it wanted to. When you reflect on why, there is, in most cases, no specific documented restriction, it’s merely our behaviours are regulated by previous experience.
So how do we become limitless? How can we do things differently, while still operating within the constraints of a large bureaucratic, and in many cases, faceless machine of reductionist thinking and scalable efficiency (all of which are critical, but can inhibit the thinking required to successfully execute opportunity creation).
There are five critical levers at your disposal, and it may come as a surprise but the very limitations you feel are forced upon you are a direct result of your own actions, not those of the system or of others. As painful as it is to confront that it’s true.
#1 - Choice
We all have a choice. Every decision we make, everyday we have a choice. For example, when we qualify our potential success on an RFP, we may use traditional qualification tools. But deep down we know we are not really well positioned and that to truly be successful we need to do something bold, something different, something to change the need. But that’s hard, time consuming and not as tangible as responding to an RFP. It “looks” better to show activity, rather than admit low probability of success and engage in a different approach. But this is a classic example of our assumptions and regulated behaviours limiting our success. Who said changing the game was frowned upon? Who said differentiating by changing the customers need and outcomes was not allowable? Who said chasing an RFP we won’t win was a good use of company resources? Who said hope was a great strategy? Only when you choose to do what is right can you change the system
Here is an awesome 3-5 min article on the Psychology of Choice and the Biases associated with it https://www.cleverism.com/psychology-of-choice/
#2 – Action
In legalese Omission is a Failure to Act. Where there is a Duty to Act and one does not act there is an Omission. Within organisations, the perception, understanding or even mythology of what are the Duty Actions are often wildly debunked when put under the microscope. We think we can’t break the rules. Yet in many cases the perceived rules merely don’t exist. It is our duty to not blindly do what we have always done. It is our duty to ask for help, to seek guidance and to offer choice and options for our peers, leaders and team members to make informed decisions. Here is a wonderful 3 min article on empowering action http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2014/01/27/6-ways-to-empower-your-employees-with-transformational-leadership/#57cfa6b23268
#3 – Communication
The art of communication is in what is NOT being said. Reading between the lines. How often have you sat in a meeting where the bulk of the dialogue has been slanted towards negativity. That’s not a good idea, we can’t do that, we tried that before, that won’t work, love it, but we don’t have the resources, we won’t get budget for that, no way legal will let us do that, finance are cutting costs, etc etc etc. All these comments point to an important underlying assumption. Nothing can or will change. Organisations are masterful at communicating efficiency changes. A shift of a function to manila to lower costs and follow the sun, a reduction in technical support resources as we move to a crowd support model online where customers will technically support each other, the removal of a technical services account manager role, as new online processes will keep customers updated via email. All these wonderful changes tend to reinforce the assumptions that the only change is reductionist, cost and efficiency based. Yet, day in day out people make changes to processes that deliver amazing outcomes for customers, employee and shareholders. They just never get shared. The art is drawing these examples to the fore. When you get negative “this won’t happen” responses, reframe the question, re-think the challenge, ask why can’t it change and who can change it. Tackle head on he assumption that things won’t change, rather than perpetuate the assumption by participating in the same viewpoint. Here’s a thought provoking 2 min video on reframing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcIJKzJFz7o
#4 – Balance
Almost every action, decision or meeting you have selfish serves to benefit only one stakeholder. Think about all the meetings you were in today. As you reflect think about the raw content of the discussion, the motivations of the discussion, what you wanted out of the discussion or what the meeting organiser wanted out of it. In almost every case the meeting, activity, decision etc served to deliver benefit to just one stakeholder, it may have been you. It may have been your shareholders. It was almost most likely those two, but it could have been your customer, your peers, your partners. In short there is imbalance in the motivation of decision making and action. How would things change is you said to yourself, every action, every task, every meeting, every decision must serve to benefit a minimum of two critical stakeholders n both clear, tangible and measurable ways. Lets say it had to benefit both a customer and yourself, or a partner and your shareholder. But it had to be genuine. Saying I want to sell my stuff to my customer and they’ll save money is not meeting this balance goal. As they may not save money and your real motivation is sell some stuff, it’s justified through a nice ROI calculator. The alternative is to resist to urge act decide or act on anything that will brutally serve only one stakeholder, and rather ask how to we deliver positive outcomes to more than one stakeholder. This type of thinking changes the paradigm and forces “the system” to change. It moves from an egocentric approach to a more integral and unitive approach. 2 min read on balanced decision making http://jeffreysummers.com/balanced-decision-making/
#5 - Ownership
Who is responsible for changing the system? You are. How often have you seen a process that is broken, doesn’t work, is destructive, results in malperformance, is harmful to customers etc, and while you’ve probably complained about it to customers, peers or even your manager, the complaint really is nothing more than a frustrated rant….what could or should you do about it? It’s not your problem right? Someone else owns that process, someone else should fix it, I can’t change it. Wrong. If you don’t do something about it, constructively, then by definition you are agreeing with it’s virtue and value. Now you may argue that even if it were raised to the highest levels, it won’t get changed. Nothing ever does. But that’s simply not the case. Everyone can cite tons of examples of things that did get changed, if you thought about it. The key is being constructive, being action orientated, outcome focussed and finding those that can make a difference. Going back to the 4 points above, if the alternative to the current situation inherently offers choice, based in action, communicated with passion and intent and is balanced on delivering outcomes for more than one stakeholder, it would b nearly impossible for anyone not to act and act with urgency. By synthesising up you can challenge your assumptions and re-regulate your behaviours. Another wonderful 2 min video to inspire you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QRqIGznHvU
Becoming limitless requires a passionate purpose. In reaching your personal dreams, nothing stands in your way. Yet professionally we tend to let “the system” define our boundaries, even though our culture aims to encourage, support and nurture growth and a world class limitless sales organisation.