Last week, we added Payless and Kraft Heinz to the list of good companies gone bad. Unfortunately, the list will continue to grow as established companies and organizations fight for survival in this digital, disruptive age we are in. The negative impact their turn of fortune has on communities and careers is significant. The emotional impact is even greater. For example,
people at all levels within organizations are uncertain of what the future holds, resulting in increased stress, greater internal politics, and lower productivity.
I’ve come to realize that you have to have one thing to rise above and be successful in times of disruption. That one thing is much greater than skill because of how technology is replacing jobs; it is a spirit--specifically, a spirit of discovery. When I say spirit, I’m not talking voodoo, astrology, or palm reading—I’m talking a state of mind. I’m defining spirit as, “The nonphysical part of a person which is the foundation of emotions”, and discovery as, “The act of finding something, someone, or someplace that you did not know before.”
A spirit of discovery is one in which a person is always focused on advancing three things:
Your knowledge (What you know).
Your network ( Who you know).
Your influence (How you apply what and who you know to make a positive difference).
The great thing about a spirit of discovery is we were all born with it. Think about how when we were kids we looked forward to learning new things, meeting new friends, and applying new skills. For example, when there were no toys around, we came up with games to play. It reminds me of when we got our grandson, who was two at the time, a kids’ ride-on electric car. He got into the car for a quick minute and then started playing in the big box it came in. The car only allowed him to use it as it was designed; whereas, the box gave him limitless options. He then wanted to take the car apart with his toy drill and use the parts to build something within the box.
Unfortunately, the spirit of discovery is taken out of us once we start school and work. We quickly learn that conformity is the key to success. The saying “You have to go along to get along” comes to mind. That’s exactly what the mindset is within leaders at companies who are failing. They have their definition of what it takes to be successful, which is always anchored on how they were previously successful. If you don’t conform to that model, you won’t be successful within that organization.
To get your spirit of discovery back, become a kid again, stop playing with the car, and start playing with the box.