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  • Writer's picturePhil Marsland

Get Out There in These Challenging Times

Here's my third article for The Yorkshire Times

It's easy in challenging times to turn inwards, to hunker down, foetal position like. Times in this country and wider afield are uncertain to say the least. But, I would suggest that now is not the time to hunker down. Now is the time to get out there.

When times are tough and you don’t get out there, you tend to look for comfortable re-assurance, for like minded people, for positive re-inforcement of what you already do.

If all is going well, then that is excellent. But if you are facing tough challenges, then keeping doing the same thing and expecting different results is....................well I'll let you google the quotation.

In business these challenges could be about creativity, competing for talent, productivity and your competitiveness. Thinking the same will not help you here, as your actions are likely to be the same. Thinking differently however requires something else.

One of the best ways I know is to go to events in order to spark your thinking and to talk to people that you don’t know, people who do wildly different things to you. Recently I’ve enjoyed diverse conversation at Brand Yorkshire, Make it York and Humber HR events, adding to those at my professional Annual Conference with the CIPD. The people have been entrepreneurs, consultants, a photographer, business leaders, a wealth manager, sales leader, a marketing expert, a well being business, several academic institutions, a gunshot manufacturer, a charitable trust manager, a copywriter and a courage queen! To name but a few.

When you’re there you also need a growth mindset (see the work of Carol Dweck). Put simply this means being prepared to listen and understand views, thoughts and ideas that are different to your own current views and experiences. You don’t have to agree with them of course, but hearing it will help you to think more creatively. The opposite of this is a fixed mindset where you only hear and see things that re-inforce your current view. Dismissing everything that you don’t already agree with.

Social media doesn’t help us with this. Showing us things that are the same as things that we have 'liked' through clever algorithms. This also drives intolerance and divisive polarisation of groups. Hanging around with the same people all the time is a mirror of this algorithm.

Coming back to my main point though of getting outside of your own personal echo chamber, here are a few tips for you to get the most benefit out of getting out there

1. Go to events, networks etc and hear speakers and have conversations that may not seem directly relevant - this can spark ideas and thoughts for you.

2. Don’t just sit there or chat aimlessly with colleagues. Talk to others. Make some notes, ask questions, discuss openly. This is essential as we only remember 10% of what we hear.

3. Then do something with your notes. Chunk them, create a mind map. Extract key insights. Don't just re-read them, or worse forget about them.

4. Talk to colleagues about what you've seen and heard. About what has sparked for you. These interactions have the potential to create more ideas, insights and different approaches that could really benefit your business

5. Make an action plan, and action it!

6. Keep getting out there and challenging your current thinking

I hope that this encourages you to get out there for your own and your businesses benefits, and who knows, I may see you there.

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