How to embrace new ideas

The whole point of learning is to embrace new ideas and use them in our lives/business. The problem is that most times we may get excited about a new idea, and then we become more afraid of the risks than excited about the benefits.

We fear what we may lose by implementing a new idea rather than embracing the the things we stand to gain. This is especially prevalent in the face of truly new ideas. It’s easy to jump on the band wagon of something popular, because if others have already forged the path, our risk is small. Yet often the reward is also small, and will get smaller as more people go ahead of us.

So we stick with ideas we already believe (confirmation bias) and ignore ideas contrary to what we think is safe.

I had, also, during many years, followed a golden rule, namely, that whenever a published fact, a new observation or thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from memory than favorable ones. – Charles Darwin

I know this doesn’t sound like the business you want to run. Nor does it sound like the life most people want to live. Most people want to have some sort of impact on the world around them. Even if it’s not on the national level, they want to be seen as someone contributing in their group of peers.

If that sounds like you, then here are four ways that can help you embrace new ideas.

1. Investigate contrary ideas.

Start like Charles Darwin did. When you see something that is contrary to your established beliefs, dig deeper into it. Make sure that what you believe is true holds up to some scrutiny.

Resilient people aren’t afraid of a challenge; they want to learn the truth. They want to expend mental energy to investigate the world around them.

In our experience, resilient people tend to be lifelong learners, continually seeking opportunities to become more mentally fit. – Resilience

2. Be realistic about the risks.

While we are much more likely to give extra weight to the risks in any idea, we need to check that tendency. The first step is to recognize that this is our general mode of operation, assuming there is more risk than there actually is.

Instead of this, be realistic about the risk inherent in any idea. The old pro/con list may be helpful here, or leveraging that mastermind group you’re a part of. The mastermind group cares about your business, without being emotionally involved in it, and because of the level of detachment, your fellow mastermind members can more objectively evaluate the risk.

This is not a blanket statement encouraging you to forget about the risk an a new endeavour. It’s a call to be realistic about the possible risks. Just because everyone has jumped onto the newest technology or the new social media platform doesn’t mean that it’s not a risky endeavour. Make sure you weigh the risks of those fads appropriately and don’t get caught up in that push for something new.

3. Plan some time for experimentation.

Just like you plan time for learning, plan some time for experimentation. I recently spent a month trying out Linux again, and while I didn’t choose to stick with it as an operating system, I did come away with a bunch of new thoughts about how software should be built. I came away with new tools I liked better than what I was using on OSX previously.

None of those changes would have been made without a bit of pain up front in getting Linux set up on my computer.

Set aside a few weeks a year to try out those risky ideas, or choose a project a quarter where you’ll try something new. Expect that there will be some pain in the transition and stick it out. Work around the issues and at the end see if the new idea/technology is better than what you were using before.

4. Support disruption.

If you’ve been in business for a few years and haven’t had any risky ideas come along, it’s time to start asking what’s wrong with your business. If you’re not interested enough in the business to keep pushing to the outer edges of what’s working, then why are you running the business anyway?

Your business should have ideas come along that challenge the way you’ve always done things. Without that disruption you’re going to be stuck sailing along as an average business in a sea of average.

Start embracing new ideas. Start investigating things that are contrary to your beliefs. Start planning times to experiment, and be ready to live with some failures.

Taking those steps are going to help you have a business that’s truly amazing.

photo credit: legofenris cc


Also published on Medium.

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