Recently, I spoke with Melissa Dawn Simkins, president of Velvet Suite, a firm that helps clients build strong brands, about the importance of seeking out different perspectives, both in business and in life. It’s easy for us to become so trapped in our own opinions and our routine ways of doing things that we’re unable to see other options and opportunities. Here are a few of Melissa’s suggestions for avoiding tunnel vision.
Build a “brain squad”
According to Melissa, it is important to surround yourself with individuals who have diverse skills and areas of expertise. This personal board of directors – or “brain squad” as she calls it – will serve as a committee of experts, each of whom you can turn to when you need advice in a particular area. Maybe you have a colleague who is skilled at public speaking, so you turn to her when you need input on your upcoming presentation. Perhaps there’s a friend who is an excellent writer – don’t be afraid to reach out to him if you’re working on an important paper or report.
Don’t be one-dimensional
Many of us are extremely busy, and also very committed to our work. While being invested in your career is a good thing, the potential downfall is that putting so much time and energy into your work may lead you to neglect to cultivate other areas of your life. Melissa suggests expanding your brain squad beyond those who can give you career advice, and including individuals who can guide you in other areas of your life, as well.
“My brain squad has included a male friend who made sure I took breaks from work to have fun, and a woman who gave me relationship advice,” Melissa said. In a sense, these are different “versions” of yourself – the work version, the play version, the relationship version, etc. Expanding your brain squad can give you the support you need to integrate those different versions and give them all the attention they need.
Choose your words mindfully
Another factor that can shape how we approach experiences in our careers and our lives is how we talk about our experiences. As Melissa said, “Everything starts with words. If you don’t have language for it, it’s not real.”
So if you’re facing a challenge and you’re feeling stuck, take a moment to mindfully examine how you’re describing the challenge, both to yourself and others. If your language is unnecessarily negative, try instead to start speaking about the situation using more neutral or positive terminology. Changing your words can change how you experience and conceptualize a challenge.
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