Expanding the boundaries

One of the most over used cliches in the management and leadership field is “outside the box thinking”. The reality is, most people are incapable of such innovative thinking and for that matter most would be better suited extending the boundaries rather than trying to think completely outside of the box.

When one thinks outside the box, the potential is there to “hit a home run” but there is also a great likelihood of failure or even worse, success that results in nothing. An example of success that results in nothing is if a person creates a new type of search engine but either no one ever hears of it, or even worse, people hear of it and hate it. Their innovative thinking might have created a new search engine but if no one is interested, nothing becomes of it.

The alternative is to extend the boundaries. Be willing to take chances, expand your current capabilities while going in the correct direction. An example would be instead of creating a new search engine, improving on the current one. Instead of creating a new business model, improving the current business model.

While true innovators are a vital part of our growth as a people, not everyone can be the innovator. Instead, the willingness to re-brand, redesign and come up with new uses has made many people and organizations extremely successful.

Examples of expanding the boundaries include:

* Post It Note – First created as a bookmark for Bibles but then expanded into what we currently think of Post It Notes
* Listerine – Over the years it has been used as a surgical antiseptic, mouthwash and cold remedy
* Play Doh – First invented as a wallpaper cleaner than branded as the fun clay we all played with as kids
* Internet – The Internet was first conceived of as a way to exchange information amongst some scientists and has been refitted into what it is today

There are many other examples of products, services, organizations etc which started as one thing and by having someone expand their boundaries, have morphed into something much different.

I do believe there is a need for the truly innovative thinkers but for most of us, expanding our boundaries will get us further along in the right direction

There are times when expanding our boundaries does require one to go against traditional thinking but that is the risk one takes to be successful in the long run.

Expanding the boundaries creates a larger opportunity than staying where you are and also helps to make sure you continue to grow in the future

Some people wont agree with this and think that either you think out of the box or you stagnate. They are certainly entitled to that view but I believe there is the third option of expanding the boundaries

Have a great day!


Ask Permission Not Forgiveness

There is a basic belief be many that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

This means, if you have a choice of asking permission to use something or using it without permission knowing that if you get caught you can simply ask for forgiveness, it’s easier to go just do it and then apologize later.

There are three problems with this belief, in my mind.

First, if you choose to live by the “golden rule” you must be willing to accept others doing this to you. You can’t expect others to ask permission when you do whatever you want with the idea you will apologize later.

The second problem is it only works once. If you take something, or use something, without permission and get caught so beg forgiveness, you might be granted this forgiveness one time. However, the second time you do this, you lose all credibility. When you ask permission, and are granted it, people are more willing to work with you again in the future. So the forgiveness idea might work once but if you are trying to establish long term relationships, go with the permission.

The third problem, and to me the biggest one, is the character issue. Just because you can probably get away with something and even if you can’t get away with it, you can beg forgiveness, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Your character shows who you are, and what you do, when no one is watching. If you aren’t in times when you think you can get away with something and honest the rest of the time, you are not an honest person. A persons character is who they really are and if you claim to be a good person than be a good person all the time, not just when you think you can’t get away with things.

Ask permission, treat others as you want to be treated, develop long term relationships and do the right thing….it’s really not all that difficult

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Have a great day!


Leadership vs Position

Many people assume leadership comes from the position a person holds. The reality is, great leaders are able to lead regardless of whether they are in a position of leadership or not.

An example of this incorrect assumption would be on a high school sports team. Players want to be named “captain” so they can be in a position of leadership. Whether the captain’s are chosen by team vote (at which point it’s typically a popularity contest), or the coach assigns the captain (at which point it’s usually the best player assigned to be captain), this does not make the person (or people) named captain a leader.

Looking back in history, there are numerous examples of great leaders who led without being in a position of leadership. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was a tremendous leader long before he was in a position of leadership. While he was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he didn’t receive his ability to lead from that position, if anything, his ability to lead gave that position power. Dr King didn’t wait for someone to bestow him a position, he went out and led based on his individual qualities, beliefs and abilities.

Mother Teresa led through willpower, example, belief and dedication NOT through the power given to her by someone else.

George Washington didn’t become a leader when he became the first President, he became the first President BECAUSE of his ability to lead.

Are you waiting to be put in a position of leadership or are you being a leader on your own?

Have a great day!


No Experience Necessary

One of the biggest complaints young people have when they are applying for a job is the job description says “experience necessary” but how can they get experience if no one will give them their first chance.

The real question shouldn’t be whether the employer should be willing to change their rules to give someone a first chance but rather, whether experience is a good thing all the time.

If I need a doctor to operate on me, there is no doubt I want one with good experience. However, if I’m hiring a front desk clerk for a hotel, or a server at a restaurant, I’m thinking there are many other qualities that are much more important than experience.

Do they have a good personality? Do they have the intellect to do the job?

There are various types of assessments that can be done (emotional assessments etc) but my preference is to meet the person and see whether they seem like a good fit. You can still check references and job histories but keep in mind, companies are quite reluctant to say anything other than to confirm someone worked there and the time period.

Rather than trying to find a person with the experience from a similar job, wouldn’t it make more sense to find someone with the ability to do the job and then provide them with the proper training.

It’s important to remember that if a person has experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good experience. Experience usually simply means they already have habits so while you wont have to help them develop these habits, you might have to break them of their bad habits and help them develop good ones.

Successful organizations provide training for their employees. For some people that would be retraining and for others it would be initial training. Given a preference, I would rather have an employee with a great upside yet limited experience who could be trained properly as opposed to someone whose sole qualifications is that they have experience with no guarantee the experience is good experience.

Providing proper training can be much more valuable than finding someone with experience. However, it does require being able to provide training for your employees. The obvious question is, if you can’t provide proper training for your employees, should you be hiring in the first place?

Have a great day!


Not everyone wants to be a leader

One of the mistakes many managers make is to try to force people into a leadership position when it’s not something they want.

Leaders frequently assume everyone wants to be leaders but the reality is, some people are perfectly content being a follower and doing their job as well as they can.

Even people with excellent leadership qualities might not want to be leaders and forcing them to do so will only result in losing excellent followers (and without followers, who would leaders lead?).

Never force leadership on others but rather, help those who want to be leaders and have the qualities to be leaders achieve their goals.

Forcing people to do things they don’t want to do will make them unhappy as well as making those around them unhappy.

Have a great day!