Dwell in Possibility

Dwell in possibility”, borrowed from Emily Dickinson is one theme that is guided me so far and will continue to guide me in the future. 

Every single day brings along a world of possibilities and one thing that determines what we see and how we see things is out own attitude. If you look for problems and constraints, you will always find them – even in the best of situations.

Possibility thinking is an attitude of seeing things and asking, “What’s possible here?” and then working to bring those possibilities to life. Because, ultimately all human progress depends on ability to see possibilities and make them happen.

In my own career, the mindset shift from constraints to possibilities has helped me immensely and continues to help. How do you dwell in possibilities? Here are a few things to consider:

  • It starts with a belief that possibilities (and solutions) exists. It is not about denying constraints but working your way around constraints.
  • It is about persistence in looking for answers when you are unable to find straightforward solutions to constraints.
  • It is about having an eye for what’s working and how can that be amplified as much as it is about knowing what falls in your circle of influence.
  • It is about learning to live with uncertainty and still acting with confidence.
  • It is about realization that things don’t have to be the way they are and that making a change is a possibility.
  • It is about being able to challenge the status-quo knowing that there are better ways of doing things.
  • It is all about execution putting all your energy out there to take the right next steps.
  • It is about riding the waves of change rather than being crushed by it.
  • It is about consciously pursuing the path of your heart and go where it takes you – even if it means living on the edge. Because as Seth Godin says, “If you can’t fail, it doesn’t matter.” 
  • It is about moving beyond our best and being prepared to fail fast, early and often to succeed eventually. Having high expectations from the self and from others is vital because making possibilities happen is hard work.
  • It is about being impeccable with your words (one of the four agreements)  because our choice of words create our possibilities.
  • It is about a strong desire to make a positive difference and contribution in your own life but making a difference to others (your people, organization, teams, family, friends etc.)
  • Living in possibilities is a mindset of serving others by working with them, collaborating with them and finding people who can be your allies in making things happen.

It seems like the only option we have to truly steer ourselves forward is to embrace the mindset of possibility and abundance. Then why not commit to live by the words of Emily Dickinson and “dwell in possibility”?

A worthy goal for 2017 and beyond.

Also Read at QAspire:

In the sketch: Ancient 16th century windmills from Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands (illustrated from my visit there in Dec 2016).

In 100 Words: Face The Light

 

In moments of uncertainty, inspiration came to me in form of a tweet with a visual that read,

“If you see shadows, it is because there is light.”

I instinctively told myself,

“If you face the light, shadows fall behind.”

The mindset of abundance asks, “What’s possible?” instead of “What could go wrong?” and focuses on those possibilities because constraints are almost a given in work and life.

Only then, we can start focusing on possibilities, thinking beyond the boundaries, raising the bar, stepping into the unknown and doing what truly matters.

We try. We err. And then, we learn!


Also Read at QAspire:

The Circle of Influence

Yes, we all are concerned about so many things. From economy, inflation, politics, our own health, our mortgages, future of our kids and the list goes on. In businesses where things are in a constant state of flux, things get worse. 

Acknowledging these concerns is important but constantly spending our scarce energy only on these concerns is futile. When faced with situations, challenges and concerns, it may be useful to ask the following questions:

  • Can I do something about it myself? Is it under my direct control? Is the onus of resolution or change on me? (Direct control)
  • If not, can I influence someone who can address/solve/change this? (Influence)

This is our circle of influence*. Anything outside this is a circle of concern. We can remain concerned about it but may not be able to do anything much – except for adapting to these situations and choosing our response in line with these concerns.

In organizations, a LOT of time is spent on discussing about things outside the circle of influence – and it is a waste. When the same energy is utilized to address things within our circle of influence, progress happens. As we do more within our circles of influence, the circle expands. We become proactive when we understand our circle of influence.

Focusing on circle of concern alone is negative energy that breeds scarcity mindset. But acknowledging concerns and then focusing on your circle of influence opens up possibilities and fosters growth. It is abundant.

“Try to Absorb what is useful, Discard what is useless, and Add what is essentially your own.” – Bruce Lee

Once you have identified your circle of influence, it is important to also act on it. When you can solve something, you must solve it without letting your worries and concerns interfere. Knowing that something is in your circle of influence and not doing anything about it is a real disservice (to yourself, your teams and your organization).

This is even more critical when people look up to you as a leader.

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* Stephen Covey defined circle of influence in his iconic self help book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. (1989)”

In 100 Words: The Art of Seeing Possibilities

Benjamin Zander’s book “The Art of Possibility” starts with this story:

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.

One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS. STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES.

The other writes back triumphantly, GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. STOP. THEY HAVE NO SHOES.

How often does fear win over our hopes and dreams? We constantly keep thinking about our frustrations but not about the potential that we still have in us. Don’t let your failures so far interfere with what is still possible for you to do.

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Also Read: Other 100 Word Parables

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Bonus: See Benjamin Zander in action in this Pop!Tech 2008 Video where he shows what it means to live in a world of possibilities.

Three Friends, Diverse Stories and One Lesson

Three friends meet over the cup of coffee and some nicely made sandwiches.

It is a typical “friends meeting” with no specific agenda. They start talking about their lives, how they navigated through their careers, struggled and found their way through.

They narrated their personal stories of triumphs, tribulations and a constant inner struggle that goes on during those formative years. They shared major change events, turning points in their lives/careers, complexities and uncertainties. These stories helped them understand each other at a deeper level, but it also extended a common realization.

What these stories narrated was our ability as human beings to deal with uncertainty. When we pass out of school and then graduate, we are surrounded by possibilities. These possibilities and related uncertainties forces us to bring out our best. We work through that maze to find something we love doing or something that we are successful at. Success breeds more success and we start growing in our personal lives and climb up the career ladder.

With this growth comes comfort and certainty. We love this comfort and get used to predictability in everything we do. We want things to be done in a certain way and the element of “exploration” is almost dead. Along the way, we may become too timid to take risks, explore the unknown and work our way out through a maze.

Three friends, diverse stories and one realization – let our growth NOT become a barrier to possibilities that lie within us. Let us remain agile, alert and awake to everything that provides deeper meaning, satisfaction and joy to us.

It turned out to be the time well spent.

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Announcement:  Please check out my newly launched Tumblr blog. The purpose of this blog is to share interesting stuff, quotes and ideas from my friends in blogosphere more frequently. It is somewhere between a regular blog and twitter. In that space, I will share every insight that inspires me with a link to the source. 12 posts already and growing. Please check it out, subscribe and participate.

Thriving By “Initiating”, “Creating” and “Improving”

The most memorable things in our career are the ones we initiated. People love saying, “I was the one who started the NY office” or “I defined the testing processes here” or “I bought our first consulting assignment” or “I started it from scratch”. During the hiring process, I encounter a number of people who cherish what they had built at their previous assignments.

We, as humans, crave for meaning. Our deeper satisfaction comes from “creating” something, “improving” the stuff and making a larger difference to the organization or people.

What it means for business leaders

  • Identify people who are keen to make a difference.
  • People who demonstrate active thinking about work.
  • Involve them in strategic and tactical initiatives (either as a part of their primary KRA or as a part-time initiative).
  • Explain them the importance of that initiative for the organization.
  • Train them, if needed, to think from a ”possibility” standpoint”. (Read this GREAT story)
  • Review progress and ask open-ended questions to provoke thinking.
  • Let them run with those initiatives, but stay in loop to do course correction when needed.
  • Validate the person and his/her thinking process.
  • Recognize and reward the participation.

What it means for you as a “personal leader”

  • Look at the current gaps within your organization.
  • Gaps in operations, gaps that directly impact your work or areas where nothing exists.
  • Those are your opportunities to initiate something meaningful.
  • Talk to your immediate peers about what you can do to fill those gaps.
  • Discuss, ideate and brainstorm with your immediate superior. (You can also find a workplace mentor to help you.)
  • Take charge and commitment from the senior management.
  • Draw out a plan with ideas, possible constraints and approach.
  • Validate your plan with others – seek support.
  • Execute the plan and review the progress.
  • Track the impact of your initiative.

Bottomline:

The degree of our satisfaction depends on the degree of our contributions to the organization. By simply “doing-as-directed”, you may survive at best. But to thrive, flourish and grow, you have to think beyond the obvious and see possibilities. Initiate things. Follow them through. Deliver drastic improvements. Fill in the gaps. Bring about a big difference. Be memorable.

Have a great start into the week!