I am pleased to start out this year with a guest post from my friend, author and resiliency guru Eileen McDargh who has written a wonderful new book called Your Resiliency GPS – A Guide for Growing Through Life & Work. She mentions several necessary resilience qualities that are the natural strengths of introverts; listening and humility. As I reported in the book Quiet Influence, Introverts take the time to gather information through focused conversations and emerge with the well researched viewing points that Eileen McDargh describes here.
The Power of Viewing Points for a Powerful New Year
If you seek to increase your business, develop new products or services, gain market share, or keep great talent, you will need to develop the skill of adaptability, a critical component for resilient leaders. One way to increase adaptability, is to constantly seek viewing points.
A viewpoint is a singular way of looking at events, processes, and people and then acting upon that single view. Daniel Boorstin, former creator and head of the Library of Congress stated, “ The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the continents and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.”
Viewing points, on the other hand, require that you actively seek information from many sources and often from people with whom you rarely interact. Such people could be front line personnel, customers, friendly competitors, and maybe even—children! One software company went into a 5th grade class and demonstrated what the software could do. The questions from those 10 year-olds showed faults in the system that the engineers had never consider.
Easy to say. Harder to do. Particularly if you are doing well. Remember Kodak? Howard Johnson restaurants? Almost half of the companies included in the rigorous research for “In Search of Excellence” are gone. Of those companies first chosen for Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 list, only 15% remain.
What happened? According to Sydney Finkelstein’s book “Why Smart Executives Fail”, companies that have failed often knew what was happening but chose not to do much about it. In short, few challenged the status quo and asked the tough questions. They became locked into a viewpoint.
On the flipside, while crawling through a steel plant for my client, I encountered a man who ran one of the highly automated portions of the factory. He informed me that he was retiring in two weeks and while he knew a number of ways to improve operations, none of the executives ever asked for his input. “They think I don’t know anything,” he snorted. “They are wrong.”
The above two juxtaposed examples point out what behavior is required for the adaptability that comes from viewing points:
- A willingness to suspend judgment
- Naïve listening
- Intense curiosity to constantly learn.
Consider these questions as catalysts to open a 360-degree window of possibilities for the New Year. Imagine that you are at the top of a lighthouse and you want to see all around you. What is in front might be very different from what is beside you.
- Test the status quo. Where might you be “too comfortable”?
- Describe current reality and then ask, “What would happen if…” “What could make current reality better.” “Who offers a very different viewpoint?”
- What will it take for you to seek that viewpoint?
- What are sacred cows that might bind your hands? Are they really “sacred”? How can you test that belief?
- When you hear another viewpoint, how can you incorporate that into your panorama of options? Remember, just as there are four positions on a compass, there are at least four viewpoints.
- Was something discarded that shouldn’t have been? Was anything discarded which now is relevant? (Some doctors are now making house calls. One company is picking up clients because- gasp—they have real people on the phone rather than a voice mail doom loop.)
- What small steps can you make to move you in the direction of your choosing? What is your GPS- growth potential strategy?
Meister Eckhart, the 13th Century German theologian and philosopher, offered timeless advice for all who would develop this particular skill for adaptability. “ Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
Welcome to 2015—a world of new beginnings nurtured through viewing points.
Eileen McDargh is the founder and CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of The Resiliency Group and McDargh Communications. She helps organizations and individuals energize the life of their business and the business of their life by developing skills to respond to constantly changing professional and personal demands. Her newest book, Your Resiliency GPS – A Guide for Growing Through Life & Work has been met with high acclaim as an organizational resource.