Wisdom is gained and success is attained when we open our minds, ask insightful questions and attend to what we are offered. How do you pass this test?
In 1988, I had an idea. What if I started a consulting company? That could be interesting. Then I contemplated the many reasons why I should and why I should not take such a risk. In business circles, we often call this Force Field Analysis. What are all the forces for and against the change? I continued my contemplation by asking questions like “Who, How and When” to explore the critical factors necessary for success. Who could help me? How would I go about turning this idea into a reality? When would I start? What milestones would I need to help guide me? I also considered what could go wrong, what I now refer to as the “Yeah, buts.” A zentrepreneur hears this statement a lot. There are always plenty of people willing to tell us why certain ideas will not work. We are too young or we are too old. We’ve tried that before. There are too many risks. Nay, nay, nay!
Twenty five years later I am discovering the timeless wisdom in these simple yet profound questions. How elegant is this? A one or two word question can lead us to depths of knowledge and understanding that indeed change the world. The question “What if?” challenges us to open our minds and explore alternatives and possibilities, a critical element in innovation and advancement. The question “Why” challenges us to think carefully about the value of the idea, the recipients, the audience, the market, and the benefits. The question “Why not” gives us a chance to play with the idea even further, looking at it from a very different angle. Each of these questions allowed me to process data and information at a deeper level. I now attribute each of these questions to my many years of growth and prosperity.
When I first started exploring the idea of starting a business, there were many reasons why I should not do it. I had my own list of “Yeah, buts” to deal with. We sometimes forget that we can be our own toughest competition. To begin with, I did not know how to start a consulting company. I did not know how to write a business plan. I did not know how to consult. I had very limited resources. I did not know how to raise money. What was I to do?
By asking the right questions and talking with the right people, I quickly understood what I did not understand. I learned what I needed to learn. I recognized that I did not know what I did not know. Ignorance is the root cause to most of our problems. By waking up to this profound truth, I learned to move past it. I started by reading books and listening to audio recordings on how to start a business, write a business plan, market the business, sell, consult, and grow the business. The information and resources were all right there. I just had to reach out and tap them. The ball was clearly in my court.
I also learned that it does not do any good to ask questions if the mind is already made up. Pay attention to how often this happens. Questions must be treated as contemplative – without immediate criticism and judgment. We have to be willing to explore alternative points of view, challenge assumptions starting with our own, and open up to possibilities that often seem impossible from within whatever box we are in. When the box (or paradigm) itself is the problem, it doesn’t do us much good to solve problems within it. We have to shift our point of view and explore options that result in “aha” moments and flashes of genius.
I used the same line of questions when the idea of writing a book came my way. What if I do this? Why? Why not? Who could help me? How do I do it? When do I start? What could go wrong? These same questions challenged me to learn, to explore, to take calculated risks and to prosper. I now have 16 published books and countless articles. I learned to write a book by reading a book on how to write a book. Did I get it right the first time? No, I made many mistakes. Do I consider these mistakes failures? Not at all! The first book I wrote, Pulling Together: The Power of Teamwork, sold out within the first year and has since been re-published by four different publishers. It became a national seminar and still sells worldwide.
Here is the lesson:
1. Open your mind. Learn to contemplate ideas and options, not judge them prematurely
2. Ask simple, yet profound questions. They will lead you to profound insights and learnings
3. Apply yourself and your ideas. Take ownership, action and accountability
4. Get out of your own way. Recognize the limitations of the fearless mind and let them go
I believe there is a “Zentrepreneur” in all of us – an abundance of good ideas seeking expression and manifestation. The real key is in removing barriers and obstacles, including insecurity, fear and doubt. When we get out of our own way by finding alternatives that are worth trying, we free ourselves to the limitless possibilities that surround us. There are no shortages of good ideas. There is only the mind that tells us we can or we can’t. The zentrepreneur combines good ideas with bold action. We let go of inhibition and doubt, and let prosperity and abundance flow. Find your inner zentrepreneur, ask the right questions and let your spirit guide you on this amazing, mystical journey we call life.
– John J. Murphy counsels organizations worldwide on how to create and innovate by overcoming fear, doubt and human resistance. He draws on his diverse experiences as a corporate director, Notre Dame Quarterback, spiritual mystic, management coach, and author of 16 books, including Sage Leadership and Beyond Doubt, to inspire positive change. His latest book is Zentrepreneur: Get Out of the Way and Lead (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
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