Stay Open to New Ideas

So you’ve reached your pinnacle.  You are top of the heap. You are master of all you survey…..or are you? Are you open to new ideas or satisfied you know it all?

One of the dangers we can all face is complacency.  With success, there is a real possibility of you thinking that you have nothing more to learn.  Do not be fooled by this kind of self-arrogance.

All of us, however experienced, will still have things to learn until the day we die.  It’s imperative to keep ourselves open to new ideas.

Being open to new ideas means learning from the most unexpected places

I know I am learning all the time.  I ask lots of questions and then go off to research the answers which often opens new areas for consideration.  I actively pursue courses, new experiences, gatherings and lectures in both my professional life but also in different sectors that strike me as interesting to know more about.

If you work for a forward-thinking company they will commit to always educating their employees. If you run a business, then make that commitment not just for your employees, but for yourself. If you employ people who think outside the box, do not see their questioning as a threat, more as an opportunity. Beware the, “We’ve always done it this way” trap.

It may come from the most unexpected of places.  I’ve found simple statements from friends’ children can set off a whole string of ideas and thoughts that lead to surprising solutions.  Or it may be a throwaway comment by someone that sparks the germ of a new idea that I can then follow up on.  Your employees are a great source of innovative thinking if you allow them the chance to express opinions in a safe environment. Be open to the new ideas they come up with.

Even when I have sat through a talk that I have found quite boring or it has not sparked off anything for me I can usually winkle out at least one little gem to take forward which then makes it worthwhile.

Staying open to these and using them as fodder for new and different thinking is the key to continued success and development.  It’s what keeps us ahead of our competitors who have fallen into the complacency trap.

The danger of not being open to new ideas is extinction

Closing yourself off will lead to eventual extinction just like the dinosaurs. Look back over the significant business failures of the last decade and see how these companies “died” because of old thinking.  An example is Jaeger who failed to identify and attract their core customer- middle class, middle aged women as consumer buying habits changed.

Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar, says many retailers have been “left behind” as buying patterns have changed. “These companies are stuck in a rigid, seasonal buying cycle which no longer reflects how consumers shop,” says Mr Tooke.

About Jaeger – Glen Tooke at Kantar says

…the firm also relied too heavily on special offers, estimating that discounts accounted for over three quarters of Jaeger’s sales.

“This constant stream of sales and offers has discouraged shoppers from paying full price and has lessened their trust in the quality of the Jaeger product – one of its fundamental selling points,” he said.

There is talk that Jaeger may re-emerge but probably only as an online retailer. Relying too heavily on what used to work is likely to doom business to failure- whereas being open to new ideas allows for the possibility of exploring potentially profitable opportunities.

This also applies to us as individuals and solopreneurs. Scientific research has shown that stimulating the brain with new thinking helps ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and is good for our health. Being open to new ideas does not mean jumping into unknown territory every 5 minutes; that level of risk is not practical. It simply means avoiding being stuck in the same old way of thinking. It brings new perspective to problems and can encourage alternative solutions. It also allows us to grow as individuals and business owners/employees.

So, the next time you are listening to someone’s talk, or reading a new article about tech developments or innovation; consider, “why not?” rather than, “this won’t work for me”. Be open to new ideas and new avenues may well be the result.

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