Expand Thinking

What have you done lately to expand your thinking?  The chances are you need to spend more time naked with others.

If we are going to lead well, solve problems and grow our businesses and ourselves as people we need to be able to constantly challenge and expand our thinking.

We survive each day because of the heuristics we have developed over time that guide our thinking and behavior.
Without them we would be a mess. We would get hit by cars crossing the road, would spend hours weighing up simple decisions and struggle to get anything done. However the narrow way in which they can guide and limit our thinking at times can also be dangerous.

Our work colleagues put us in a box years ago and have decided what we do and don’t want to hear. Search engines now serve up the information they think we want to see, and Facebook emphasises some friend’s posts over others based on its perception of our preferences. For many our world and our thinking can become smaller and smaller and we haven’t even noticed.

“I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.” T. S. Elliot – Has your thinking stagnated?

Here are three tips to expand your thinking.

Sit in a different seat

The business I use to work at got relocated from a small office in the suburbs into a skyscraper in the city. After a few weeks I overheard a couple of staff lamenting the loss of the little park they use to have their lunch in. They walked through the city streets to get to the office and then sat in seats looking out into other offices. I took them on a quick walk to the other side of the building. I enjoyed the surprise on their face as they stared out into the expansive harbor side botanical gardens located right next to our office.

Too often our view is constrained by where we view the world from. Go and spend a night working in a homeless shelter. Read to people in an aged care facility. Have dinner in a restaurant in a suburb you would never dream of visiting and see life from a different perspective. Do you normally sit in an office on your own? Move out. Work from the lunch room, sit in open plan, experience your work world from a different angle.

Walk more

How much of your day is spent sitting in front of a screen or in meetings?

Recently there has been a bit of discussion about holding more meetings while walking. There are the obvious health implications of getting up and exercising, but there are other benefits as well. Walking with someone puts you on a level playing field – mutual safe ground – and can reduce some of the barriers to conversation and thinking.

Walking gets the heart rate going and delivers more oxygen to the brain. Walking means you are less likely to be distracted by the computer, the phone and others wanting your time. It also doubles as a chance to work on your fitness.

Where do you do your best thinking? It may not be walking. For some it is in the shower, others on a beach, others in the mountains and for some it is at their desk with a blank piece of paper. Find that space where you can think creatively and spend time there.

Spend more time naked

Most of us spend most of our time clothed. Given that for many of us our beauty is an inner beauty this is not a bad thing. As the layers of clothing are stripped away we can feel more and more vulnerable.

It is normal to want to come across as competent, in control, understanding all that is going on and able to handle anything. The realty can be we are like ducks on a pond – relaxed exterior but madly paddling under the surface. However, if we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable the opportunity for learning and growth are more significant.

Few of us voluntarily enter into vulnerability, but when we do the results can be surprising. You do need to be comfortable with who you are to become more vulnerable but the upside whether you are at the top of the corporate tree or starting out can be significant.

As people see more of your authentic self they can feel more comfortable in your presence and more likely to reach out and add value and give input into the areas of weakness and opportunity you are exposing. Your thinking and world expands as does theirs as they are empowered to contribute.

Corporate nudity is also being leveraged more these days. Companies are recognizing the need to be vulnerable in front of their clients from a social media point of view inviting feedback through to deep collaboration in product development as clients are invited onto the factory floor to shape the offerings

None of these thoughts are rocket science but we rarely take time to think about them and so sit in the same place fully clothed locked in the same way of doing things and wondering why things don’t change?

What have you done lately to expand your thinking?