My dog Scout likes to run. She’s a little thing with long legs, a rescue mutt of dubious pedigree, but boy does she have speed!
Scout spends most of her time lounging around the house as a pampered a family pet. When she’s out, she’s on a lead, reined in and under control. On the rare occasion when she finds herself unleashed, Scout takes off running like the wind.
She’ll get a good head start, then she slows down just a bit, looking back with a taunt in her eyes that seems to say, “Hey sucker, catch me if you can.”
Scout isn’t alone in relishing her freedom. Best-selling author Alan Weiss talks about how his dogs run into the yard every morning as if they’ve never seen it before. They’re ready to explore, greeting the new day with wonder and excitement, and Weiss advises consultants in his community to do the same.
It’s a great point, and one I try to embrace myself.
Imagine Being Unleashed
Imagine if we approached our businesses like a happy dog greets the world.
Would we rush to meet new opportunities with optimism and enthusiasm instead of breaking them apart to see what’s wrong?
Would we treat people we meet like new friends, instead of people who might hurt us?
Would we show our employees what it means to put customers first, instead of getting tangled up over endless internal concerns?
If we change our mindset just a little, would we find ourselves untethered? Free to pursue new opportunities with unbounded vision?
Would we leave competitors in the dust like Scout leaves me when I’m chasing her?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know from working with a variety of executives over the years that many business leaders spend a lot of time constrained, tethered and tied up.
Sometimes they’re bound by self-imposed restrictions (or inhibitions), sometimes they accept limitations others place on them. Either way, the outcome is the same: They stop pushing the envelope and fail to achieve what’s really possible.
Leaders are also prone to put artificial constraints on customers and employees, making life harder than it has to be. Policies become too complex. We forget that there are people behind each process. We put numbers over nurturing, and hide behind routine instead of seeking change.
Eventually, these constraints start to feel normal. We stop fighting and might even enjoy the comfort of the familiar, seemingly safe environment we’ve created for ourselves.
Complacency is a dangerous thing. It stifles innovation, opens a window for competitors, and undermines personal and professional confidence.
Escape Your Limits
I say it’s time to break loose. Sneak beyond the boundaries. Lighten up, just a little bit.
- What complexity can you untie today that will give your business more freedom to soar?
- What self-imposed limits should you abandon?
- What external force of inertia needs to be overcome?
Whatever is holding you back, I challenge you to break through. Explore the possibilities. Run like the wind and see where you can go.
Dog photo by Hervé de Brabandère