Before we begin in earnest, we would like to ask that you read the title of this piece once again. It’s quite something, isn’t it?
It’s hard to approach a phrase like that without a healthy, and we mean very healthy dose of skepticism.
Trust us, we understand. But give us a moment, and we will be able to explain ourselves.
If you are a business owner, or you are in a position where you have been putting in long, hard, exhausting hours trying to grow the business that you work for, then you know there are no simple answers in business. There are no shortcuts to success, as much as we may wish otherwise.
There isn’t a magic phrase, or one simple solution, that once implemented opens all the doors, solves all the problems, and suddenly makes life easy and profitable.
Wouldn’t that be amazing, though?
By now, you are probably even more skeptical. Maybe even feeling a little doubtful, distrustful, or suspicious. It’s time to reveal what we are talking about, the one simple act that could change your business – forever.
Embrace intellectual humility. Question everything.
There we go. There it is. The one simple act that will change your business forever. And when we say doing this can change your business forever, we mean it. It’s an act that will have a powerful, transformative, and lasting impact on your business. It helps reveal uncomfortable truths about your business, teaches you to recognize stagnation, and turbocharges your scaling efforts.
Unfortunately, it is a simple act which is shaded by immense complexity. But don’t worry, it’s complexity we are about to explain!
Understanding Intellectual Humility
Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity embraces a singular philosophy when it comes to business. He says, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”
Taking this view of your own thoughts, plans, and approaches to business will initially feel phenomenally uncomfortable. It can give you the sense that you are undermining your own success. After all, you have been told time and time again to trust your instincts and go with your gut. That approach has gotten you where you are today, but now you need to ask yourself, is it the correct approach to get you where you want to be?
You see, this approach helps you unlock a vast reservoir of untapped potential just waiting within you, and your business. It helps you take the radical mindset that you should always be improving. And finally, it gives you an empirical tool with which to assess your decision making.
Essentially, you need to know if you have made the right decisions for the wrong reasons, or the wrong decisions for the right reasons.
If, too often, you fall on the former side of this divide, you will be able to take incremental steps forward while fundamentally undermining your future success. Falling on the later side of this divide may cause you to take one or two steps backward today, but you will do so while receiving a rich education in precisely why your decision was wrong, allowing you take massive leaps forward in the future.
Yogi Berra summed this sentiment up more succinctly and precisely than we ever could when he said, “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
Start making the right mistakes.
Now, how do you make this advice actionable?
It’s simple, keep score. Get yourself a journal.
When you make a decision, write it down. Then go one step further. Write down, in your own words, why you made the decision, and what you think the results will be.
This helps you hold yourself accountable and prevents you from hiding from bad decisions.
Soon, you will be making the right decisions, for the right reasons. Which leads us to our next point.
Now that intellectual humility has given you tools to critically analyze your decision making, you can begin embracing innovation in an intelligent and calculated way. But before we do that, let’s take a step back and consider why innovation is so important if you want to grow your business.
To do this, we will turn to Jeff Bezos, the founder, and chairman of Amazon. He has stated that when Amazon has a particularly productive or profitable quarter, it is because of work they did as much as five years ago.
Innovation is necessary if a company like Amazon, which began life as a simple online book retailer, is to grow into the multifaceted institutional giant it is today. And innovation is a continuous necessity if Amazon wants to retain its place as one of America’s most powerful and influential companies. They must constantly be improving themselves and reinventing how they do business. Amazon’s commitment to innovation has led to creations such as Amazon Prime, the Kindle, and Amazon streaming services in addition to countless infrastructure and systems innovations.
So, what is the secret behind such innovations? Again, it is simple – the bravery to fail. Or, in the words of Jeff Bezos, “There are a few prerequisites to inventing… you have to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to think long-term. You have to be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”
Of course, senselessly failing in the name of innovation isn’t going to accomplish anything, and it may even drive you out of business. If you are trying to grow your business, you will have moments of failure. Your decision-making in the pursuit of innovation can turn out to be right or wrong, but if it is grounded by sound reasoning, and you pursue it with intellectual humility, then you will always learn from it.
Practical Applications of All This Nonsense
Blah blah blah blah blaaahhhh.
We have dumped a lot of words and ideas on you in this piece, and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking that this is all nonsense. After all, philosophy isn’t going to grow your business or make you money.
Robert M. Pirsig explains this in his novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “To discover a metaphysical relationship between Quality and the Buddha at some mountaintop of personal experience is very spectacular. And very unimportant… What’s important is the relevance of such a discovery to all the valleys of this world… and all the years that await all of us.”
Essentially, ideas and business philosophies are all very well and good, but you have to actually be able to do something with them to grow your business in the real world.
And here is the thing, all passionate, driven people want to grow their business. They are fueled by a fire other people don’t seem to understand. But motivation and drive alone are not enough when you are fighting in a competitive industry full of other driven and competitive people.
You need a differentiating factor. You need to be faster, better, more efficient, or more niche in order to make people want to pay YOU for your services over everyone else. And finally, you need people to KNOW about the things that make you exceptional and different.
Applying this one simple act to your business, embracing intellectual humility, can give you a distinct advantage other people just don’t have. And you NEED to have that advantage.
· Challenge the status quo of your business: If you want to grow from where you are now, you are going to have to do something differently. But remember, reckless, unreasoned decision making regarding your growth can be dangerous.
· Think about thinking: Determine whether you are making the right decisions for the wrong reasons or the wrong decisions for the right reasons. Doing the former will lead you down an unsustainable path.
· Power innovation with right reasoning: Pursue innovation as a way to separate yourself from the pack. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Look at them as learning opportunities. Uncover ways to be different.
· Discover what makes you, you: Use innovation to become uniquely ‘you’. Establish your differentiating factor.
· Spread the word: If people don’t know why you are different, why you are exceptional or better, then it doesn’t matter. Spread the word. Usually, this takes the form of marketing and advertising.
· Don’t rest: If you complete the previous 5 steps, your business WILL grow. It will be time again to move back to step 1 and challenge the status quo. That is the key to growth, you have to keep growing. And that is why this one simple step is so powerful, and why it will change your business forever.
For more information on how you can start growing your business, check out one of our other blogs titles: What Is More Important: To Connect Or To Sell? which details the importance of personal connection in digital advertising.
For business inquiries, or if you would just like to learn more about any of the topics we have discussed here today, give us a call at (800)588-2188, or send an email directly to our managing partner, Michael Donato at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathan Rea, the lead copywriter at Helix House, is an Arizona native and a graduate from the University of Arizona in Tucson. With a B.A. in English Literature, he is wildly passionate about reading, writing, and boring his friends by talking Cormac McCarthy. He loves writing about the intersection between marketing, culture, technology, and business development. In his free time, he hikes, rock climbs, eats (a lot), and goes to just about every live music event in town.
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