Coaxing out of the weeds.

Doing new is difficult and scary.  For safety, we create complexity and hide behind it; we swim for the weeds; we dive for the details. (At least we’ll come across as knowledgeable about something when we bury our heads in details.) All of this so we can look smart and feel safe.

But with new stuff, looking smart and feeling safe are not valid. With new, we don’t know; we’re not smart (yet); there’s no reason to feel safe. (Don’t try, it’s too slow.)

It takes focus and compassion to coax people out of the weeds and help them feel safe. Focus is needed to keep the end game in mind, to constantly keep context in the forefront (why are we here?), to maintain the right compass heading (into the wind). Compassion is needed to make “I don’t know” feel safe. To start, explain the deal: “new” and “I don’t know” are inseparable, a matched set. Like your best pair of wool socks, left without right doesn’t work.  If that’s insufficient, tell them if was easy you’d have asked someone else to do it.

Day-to-day, it’s difficult to maintain focus and compassion. I find it helpful to remember it’s natural to seek safety in the weeds. We all do it. Keep that in mind while you do new as fast as you can.

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2 Responses to “Coaxing out of the weeds.”

  • Good points about safety and decision-making, Mike. I think we also don’t trust simplicity. Maintaining complexity reinforces our emotional view of the world and relieves us of the responsibility for explaining how things work and from fixing problems.

  • Innovation equals risk. No matter how you look at it. But a little risk is enjoyable. If it wasn’t for that, would there be light bulbs? Reaching out and trying something (really) new and different has put many popular and famous brands on the historical map of success in technology. I’m using one as I write. Fear of innovation is fear of failure (head for the weeds!). But I think that while failure is typically viewed as a bad thing, failure from trying something really “out there” is positive as long as you had fun doing it. Fun…like getting down in the mud and splashing it around. And if you DON’T fail it reinforces your initial intention. Whether you fail or succeed you need to just keep on innovating to be (or remain) successful and competitive.

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Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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