Not every thought you have will be (or can be) original. As satirist Ambrose Bierce said, “there is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” Shared thinking is often a combination of several other forms. With this, you can combine two or more ideas or embellish the thinking of others. Virtually all technological advances are the result of such shared thinking.
We can be prisoners of our thinking or be can be liberated and propelled by our thinking. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, endured the atrocities of several Nazi concentration camps by redirecting his thinking from the suffering around him to the meaning of his existence. He embodied the truism that although we cannot control our circumstances we can control our response to them. Compared to Frankl’s situation, the typical change or transformation effort is a walk in the park.
So you want to have a positive impact in your organization? You want to help incubate ideas and innovations that really make a difference? You want to influence people to embrace change rather than resist it? Then resolve not to behave like the Saints, the Ain’ts, and the Complaints we see in many organizations.
The Saints are people who regard themselves as martyrs. They believe they are victimized by systems, processes, or other people. Their woe-is-me demeanor seems to feed on itself, stifling creativity and smothering any hint of personal accountability. The cure: Let go of any victim stories you may be telling yourself. Confront the reality that your own behavior or constraining paradigms may be part of the problem. Honestly ask yourself the question, “What am I be doing, or failing to do, that could be contributing to this predicament?”
The Ain’ts are people who play the blame game. Their negative outlook is focused on what they perceive others to be doing or failing to do. They sometimes play the double role of Saint and Ain’t. After all, if you’re a victim doesn’t there need to be a villain somewhere in the story? The cure: Seriously challenge any villain stories you may be telling yourself or others. Such stories are often ill-founded and they serve no productive purpose even if true. Honestly ask yourself the question, “Why might they (other people) be doing what they’re doing?” Consider that the same data (your observations) could reasonably lead to a wide range of conclusions.
The Complaints are people who lament most anything and everything around them. Just about anything can be a target of their condemnation and criticism. Naturally, if the real problem is “out there” somewhere, they can absolve themselves of responsibility. The cure: If you find yourself in the Complaint mode, jettison any helpless stories you may be telling yourself or broadcasting to others. Honestly ask yourself the question, “What can I do at this moment that could help produce a better outcome?”
If re-focused thinking can enable Viktor Frankl to triumph over the Holocaust, you can surely succeed with the change effort on your plate.