“The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD), Roman Emperor, Stoic philosopher
By definition, if you want to create something extraordinary you’ve got to leave the majority. You’ve got to break free from commonly accepted ideas and practices and go out on a limb. The catch, of course, is that you risk your sanity in the process. It’s never easy to be a non-conformist, dissenter, or rebel. You end up walking the fine line between crazy and brilliant. But if you want to look back on your life and smile, it’s necessary from time to time.
I’ve often found that my clients have brilliant ideas simmering just below the surface. Much of the time they’re not even conscious of them. It’s as if their subconscious mind writes them off as crazy before they’re able to escape into daily thought. They don’t permit themselves the time to ponder big ideas – and ask big questions. And that’s really the key. A mind is capable of great things – but it depends on what you ask of it. If you ask it small questions, it’ll give you small answers. If you ask it big questions, it’ll give you big answers. Everyday the choice is yours.
1. Make it a point to integrate brainstorming into your weekly routine – this might be alone or as part of a group.
2. Ask big questions. An example might be “What would we need to do to be number one in customer service in next 3 years?”
3. Have brainstorming sessions about WHICH big questions you should asking (this is at the heart of good strategy and so few people do it).
4. Begin to pull the big, sometimes crazy ideas out of your own and other people’s heads.
Doug Sundheim • Executive Coach, New York City • email@example.com