I’ve been in far too many conversations when new ideas are immediately met with “that’s not possible because …” and with those conversations come quick death of what could just transform organizations beyond imaginable. When thinking about future possibilities, ideas should not be framed in how we see things as they are now. Granted that no one really knows what the future holds, what I do know is that the reality we see today is not how it will be in the future. Given this case, why not think of the future as an optimist and consider all what could be possible instead of limiting our thoughts because of the constraints we see today? A popular Wayne Gretzky quote goes something like “skate to where the puck is going and not where it has been.” Leadership is about the future and not maintaining the status quo.
I’ve noticed when having conversations about ideas is that folks immediately get into the mindset of scarcity and managing constraints. Often times, the mindset is about “we don’t have enough resources to do that” or “how can we do that when we need to give up …” and while these constraints do need to be considered, there are times and places for that level of conversation. Personally, when I hear those feedback, my response is “even more reason as to why we should be thinking differently. We cannot choose to stay on the same path or situations may become worse.” I’ve also responded with “was there ever a time when we had enough resources? The reality is that we will never have enough resources but it’s about being resourceful with what we have.”
A colleague who’s proven himself to be able to implement innovative ideas on campus once told me ideas often start with “wouldn’t it be cool if …” and sharing them with other folks who share the same enthusiasm or who may be able to provide support. Keeping this in mind, when I’ve had conversations about new ideas and I’m met with skepticism, sometimes, I’ve had to say “I don’t know how we’ll do it, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could do that?”
I used to have a mindset of “it’s not possible here in our organization any way so why bother thinking about an idea” and that mentality stopped me from exploring possibilities and it frustrated me. But, what I’ve come to find is that while my ideas may not be implemented at my university, there really is no one stopping me from thinking about possibilities and sharing them with the world. Many of the ideas I’ve shared on my blog will never be implemented at my university (now) for many reasons, but they are fun to think about them any way.
On a personal note, my wife and I commute to work for about 30 minutes each way every day and we often use those times to dream about possibilities. We dream about an exciting future ahead of us. It’s not really costing us anything, so we don’t really limit ourselves when we think about what are the possibilities ahead of us. Will they happen, who knows, but I do believe in the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies. One can continue on the path of “it will never happen because …” and things indeed will never happen, but with an optimist perspective, there’s the chance that what we think about and pursue may just happen.