About ten years ago, my wife and I attended the annual neighborhood Christmas party when I found myself cheerfully buried deep in conversation with my neighbor Paul. You see Paul is one of the smartest men I know and has a fascinating world-view, having built nuclear reactors all over Europe in his younger days. We covered the typical neighborhood news and shared thoughts on current events when it happened! Paul quoted Voltairelike a fantasy football geek quotes Brett Favre passing statistics. No pretense or pomposity, just a matter of fact reference to the 18th century philosopher that left me gasping for my intellectual life. On the way home, I asked my wife if she thought my public school education and degrees from Maryland and Loyola should have better equipped me to strike back with a John Locke reference or a quote from Candide! We weren’t able to solve the dilemma that night but I did find “Candide and Other Stories” in my stocking that year. Thank God, my wife is a life long learner. And that is the point!
New Challenges Require New Thought
Einstein said “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” In other words, business leaders need to continue to evolve their thinking. Dot com thinking won’t solve web 2.0 challenges any more than pre-recession thinking will get business rolling again. We’ve got to find new ways to address our challenges given the current economic conditions. You can overcome this trap by stimulating your mind and challenging your paradigms. For example, how can you get the bank to increase your line-of-credit when they’ve begun to squeeze even their best clients? How can you stimulate sales when even your competition seems to be flat? How can you find the very best talent your industry has to offer during a time when the fully employed seem to be hunkering down? It takes a new level of thinking. The problems have changed and so must our thinking.
The 90 Day Challenge
So here is your challenge. For the next month, commit to spending 15 minutes each day reading something new about business. Try not to be picky as you begin your odyssey. In fact, the more outrageous, the better. During the following month, fine tune your reading to certain blogs, trade rags, or business books. Continue to challenge yourself and roam outside your comfort zone. Read anything you can get your hands on from Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Daniel Pink, David Meerman Scott, Malcolm Gladwell, Matthew Kelly, Patrick Lencioni or Thomas Friedman. Flip through Forbes or Business Week or Fast Company or Inc. Subscribe to a couple of newsletters, blogs or daily inspirationals.
After the first couple of months, begin working your way up to an hour each day. After 3 months you’ll find this 60 minutes to be the most creative, thought provoking, business building time you’ve ever experienced. It could quite possibly change your life! Remember, your business, your employees, your customers, your partners, your bank and your shareholders all expect you to be doing this.
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”