All children devise strategies for themselves to recognize and learn certain types of information with more clarity than through the lens parents and schools use to teach. My oldest daughter astounded me when she was 2 years old and told me we had arrived at a certain store. When I asked her how she knew where we were, she happily pointed out, “Mommy it says right there! See?” Talking with her I figured out she had memorized the shape of the logo of a regional grocery chain from a TV ad shown frequently when she watched Sesame Street. The strategy served her so well she learned to read well before she was 5.
My younger daughter found a solution for herself in the social aspect of school that is so troubling for many students. She isn’t shy or introverted by any means, but was constantly uneasy about how cruel children can be to one another. She joined forces with an excellent teacher and other students to become Servant Leaders and held the first day-long, student-led summit on the subject for a number of high schools in the region. In her senior year, she spends way more time at school than at home, working on behalf of others to build a strong community for herself.
My girls have taught me how their vision of the world shapes what happens next. As adults our vision is very narrow as we become creatures of habit and expect an excellent outcome from everything we do by applying the same strategies and methods to every situation.
Ergo: Think outside the box…which is now so cliché it’s time for another evolution. So I’ve come up with a short list of ways to revise my vision in problem solving:
Raise your price rather than reduce it. An old family friend is a savvy businessman who had a large undeveloped piece of land for sale. He advertised it nationally for a fair equitable price and had no offers for over a year. Not one. Rather than take it off the market, he increased the price significantly and the land sold the very next day.
End targeting, begin attracting. Attraction seems a much more positive position to work from than targeting. Targeting sounds like a barbaric concept as if to have a prospect in the crosshairs of a rifle; and as consumers I think most agree we do feel like targets. Attracting is a different way of thinking, but it’s much more transparent and positive overall.
Encourage rather than persuade. Advertising and marketing are all about the art of persuasion. Like an overused antibiotic, most of us are immune to persuasion and engage in what we are attracted to, no matter the cost. Encouragement is much more engaging.
Motivate rather than eliminate. It’s much cheaper to keep an employee by motivating that person than replacing him/her with a new person who needs to be trained as well. Rather than eliminate a working model, motivate change to strengthen weak areas.
RSVP or Regrets Only: The tradition in inviting large numbers of people to events is to ask them to RSVP. Having held numerous large gatherings and events personally and professionally, it was obvious either people didn’t have manners or simply ignored the RSVP — no one ever replied. So I changed my thinking and asked for Regrets Only and found people much more willing to send their regrets. I don’t understand this completely, but the change in my thinking garnered the results I was looking for.
Lead rather than follow not for the sake of power, but for the sake of accomplishing the goal. It’s so very sad but true in the music industry, everyone follows the leading model. No one would even consider giving music away for free if Trent Reznor and Radiohead had not screamed from the rooftops they’d rather give their music away for free than let someone tell them what to do. Look what that led to!
If you’ve ever had your eyes examined you’ll remember the optometrist flipping through the lens, asking each and every time: “Better or worse?” Make a list of your own and feel free to share any thoughts you might have here. We can all use a little help creating a new vision of the future.