I talk to people in many roles these days. Engineers of all types (software, infrastructure, quality), trainers, CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, CEOs. The story is the same. The board, my team, management, leadership, my peers, “won’t let me” try a new idea. Is this ever true? I grant, in rare circumstances, it could be true. You worry too much about whether your idea will fail. You might be too ambitious in your plan. Start small. Advance one idea. Write it down and share it with someone you want to influence. You will be more influential if you apply the information your team gives you.

This happens to me all the time. Engineers come to me and say, “Hey Alan, we thought of a good idea to solve a problem. Can we have permission to try it?" Let me tell you now. You always have permission to try your idea. If you fail, do not make a big deal about it. Move on and try something else. No one is keeping a tally of your failures. Do you look at someone’s business and see complete and utter dysfunction? Do you wail and shout? I see great opportunities to try new ideas and solve new challenges. What is your frame of the world? Let me tell you another story.

A man is stuck in a ditch in his car. He steps outside and paces. Dialing on his cell phone for a tow truck. The tow truck arrives after many hours passed. The man calls out to the tow truck driver. “I am glad you are here. Can you help me out of this?” The truck driver trudges over the tall grass to the man glancing back and forth from the man to the car. The truck driver breathes in and asks, “What manner of life decisions led to this kind of circumstance, sir?” The man places his hands on his head’s temples, flummoxed. “I… need… a… tow?”, he responds evading the question. The truck driver reiterates, “I would love to help you and I want to know what led you to this situation?” The man gives up, “It’s fine. I will call another tow.”

In business, success is framing. If your business is growing, you might be successful for a while. Given enough time and changes, your systems will break and fail no matter what you do. Now the hard question is, “What are you doing to empower others to help you out of this ditch?" An alternative story could be us stubborn fools that want to show others how smart and hard-working we are. If you have a team its your job to empower them to take on new challenges that they can tackle and grow themselves.

  • No one is stopping you. Start small influence one person
  • Reflecting on what led us to a problem is less important than fixing the problem
  • Empower others to grow and solve problems on their own
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