“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” – Thomas Edison
Sometimes I think one of the biggest challenges facing leaders is the lack of new ideas. We get in our routine, we talk and listen to the same people, and so on. The longer we go in our careers, the greater I think we have the tendency to surround ourselves with what’s familiar, what we’re comfortable with, rather than seeking out something different.
Maybe that works for a while, but the reality is that new problems quite often require new ideas. I’ve had a lot of conversations over the past few years with leaders who said some variation of, “Well, there’s nothing else we can do, I guess we’ll just have to deal with whatever happens.” The reality is that there almost certainly is something else they can do, they just haven’t come up with it.
Ask yourself this: Where do your new ideas come from? As a leader, what are you doing to make sure you’re exposed to new things and new trends and new experiences? Who are you surrounding yourself with that can help you come up with things you might not come up with on your own? As a leader, you ought to have answers to those questions.
So if you don’t, think about people you know or have a connection to. Are there people that could help? Are there individuals in your organization that seem to be ‘idea people’, regardless of their official job title? Are there people in your community, or in your circle of friends, or amongst your peers who could help provide some fresh thinking? How can you access those people?
There’s no shame in asking for and getting help. There’s no shame in feeling like you don’t have all the answers – in fact, part of being a good leader is knowing that very thing. There is shame in not doing everything possible to get help. There is shame in not doing whatever needs to be done to find new ideas.
Get outside of your own head. Find some people who have ideas. Ask for input. Read. Listen. New problems require new thinking, new solutions. Go out and find some, and find an array of new possibilities.