This past week I was introduced to one group as, “the queen of manure” and to another I was setup with the comment, “not only does this woman work out of the box, she doesn’t even know where the box is.” Both, given the context, were complimentary believe it or not. I had to laugh because I’ve held many titles in my career, but seriously, manure queen? It may actually turn out to be one of my proudest moments in the end, so stay tuned for the rest of that story. This post isn’t about my role in the conversion of manure into bio fuel during the TN State Fair; it’s about how I aligned myself with people and thinking that defied “normalcy.”
Part of what makes the ordinary, extraordinary is when someone is willing to go beyond, “the way it’s always been done” to evoke change. I get to experience limitations daily; I work for metro government. And you’ll notice I wrote that I “get” to experience limitations. The fact is I thrive on limits because they are the very thing that causes me to go beyond normal expectations. I am in no way suggesting that you break the rules or defy policy, I am saying that it brings out the creative side in all of us when we have to develop new ways of getting ‘er done!
I’ve developed a system that works for me when confronted with “what if’s” and “it can’t be done’s” with the people I work with. If you want to know how I really feel about limiting beliefs, read a previous post As If vs. What If, but here’s what I call the IMAGINE method of climbing out of others people’s boxes:
Inhale: then exhale and try to understand the others’ perspectives
Map it out: clearly understand the problem and write down actions steps
Ask the question: “If we were to look at this positively, how could we proceed?”
Go to: trusted leaders and experts, as well as co-workers from other areas
Ignite: energy by asking, “what do we have to lose by trying it differently?”
Negotiate: with new, positive scenarios
Establish: a commitment to persistence without exception
You don’t have to remember the acronym or the particulars; you just have to be willing to find a way…where there is no way. You don’t have to actually do anything to get in the box…it just happens if you’re not constantly paying attention…and it’s your job to get yourself out. Andy Andrews has taught me to IMAGINE that there was nothing in my way and to make a new plan based on that reality. IMAGINE that money wasn’t an issue, THEN ask “could I make things happen that defy the odds?” IMAGINE that everyone I interact with was FOR me and not AGAINST me, “would that open some doors and minds in my day?” I love Andy Andrews…he’s funny, fresh and “fixed” on making things happen. I’m a “make it happen” kinda gal as well…mostly because I’m claustrophobic and don’t fit so well in that ordinary, little box.
You may not even know how you got in the box, but you can still imagine your way out. Inevitably, your creative thinking will cause change in the people, attitudes and maybe even the policies around you. Just because you happen to work in a cubicle doesn’t mean you can’t climb out with some fresh ideas. My most recent out of the box experience was deciding to find a sustainable (green) way to dispose of 560 tons of manure at the end of our fair…they’d always just taken it to the landfill and paid heavily for it…I’m turning it into bio fuel…what box?