Have you ever found yourself in a business meeting or at an event, listening to someone speak, but not hearing what they have to say? You’re just going through the motions in order to get through the meeting, seminar or conference. Sometimes we make a snap judgement about what is or is not of interest to us and then we promptly tune out. Preconceived ideas are a dangerous animal. It’s not an easy one to admit to but I am pretty sure that it is something that we are all guilty of, at least occasionally!
Our Habit Of Forming Preconceived Ideas Starts Early In Life
It starts quite early in childhood. Toddlers do it, then there is teenage belligerence.Both are learned behaviours, quite often ones that relate to the need for attention even if the result is negative attention. Getting through those years intact and sane is a miracle. I was a pretty contrary teenager, if my mother or another significant person in my life liked something, then, for a period, I took the opposite position.
That period ended when I realized that I was the one that was suffering. I was merely cutting my nose off to spite my face. No one else, least of all my mother, cared whether I ate zucchini. I actually waged a war over the eating of zucchini, and when I think about that now, I just cringe because it was a very close-minded thing to do. I was not open to other people’s points of view and I dread to think how many opportunities to learn something were missed along the way.
Sometimes We Need A Little Reminder
Daniel, the creative partner at Indigo Girl, and I were discussing Sylvester Stallone a few months ago, the longevity of his career and brand prominence. As the discussion continued, it became apparent that Daniel saw something that I didn’t. Sylvester Stallone was one of those things that I had become contrary about as a teenager, my mother admired him and my now ex-husband was nicknamed “Rambo”. Poor old Sylvester didn’t stand a chance. I’d done myself a disservice. I hadn’t seen Rambo or Rocky but I had very distinct and entrenched opinions about both. I completely dismissed them out of hand, for all the wrong reasons and without any basis for doing so because I had not seen them.
And so the Rambo and Rocky marathons commenced. I was blown away. Rambo was not even about what I thought it was about – watching the Rambo series was a journey in itself. They were not testosterone laddened films that glorified violence but thought provoking, well written narratives that speak to many of the issues that faced our society back then and are still highly relevant today. I enjoyed all of the Rambo films and I would say that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the film that I tend to judge conflict films by – The Killing Fields. Rocky was a different story all together, I’ve only watched the first three so far. They are no doubt beautifully written and well shot but I did not take to the storyline of the first film at all. So no, I don’t like Rocky as much but now I have a sound basis for being able to make that judgement. Shedding my preconceived ideas allowed me to enjoy some amazing pieces of cinema history and I learned a thing or two about myself and the world along the way.
So Why Do We Need To Challenge This Especially In Business
This translates well to the business arena. To move your business forward and to stop it from stagnating you have to challenge your preconceived ideas about everything – people, processes, products and most importantly your ideas of how things should be done. We live in a rapidly changing world. Nothing stands still and you cannot afford to either. When building and reviewing your business strategies don’t discount any avenues at first, nothing should be off the table until you are able to make a well-considered decisions about them.
I strive to be as open as possible; I monitor myself and try to stop myself from being closed-minded, heading myself off at the pass. And if I am having one of those days when I know that I am less than enthused about a task or event then I incentivise myself with the promise of a visit to Starbucks afterwards or something else equally as delightful.
So, whilst you are at a meeting, reviewing your business strategies and personal development plans, take yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t throw caution to the wind but become that cautiously open minded leader that you need to be in order to reach your goals.