Bosses should ask ‘What if …?’
Myrna Selzler Park - Aug 31, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

The golfer stood at the tee and lined up his drive; he took a few practice swings and, wham.

He shaded his eyes and watched the ball arc into the sun and land far from where he intended.

Just off my walking path, his slice started my side hustle: collecting golf balls.

Most mornings, I walk in the woods near a golf course. This morning, as I headed out, I pretended I was Wilson, the neighbour behind the fence in the ’90s show, Home Improvement.

I walked with my chin tilted up ever so slightly, so I would change my view of the world. I saw the landscape just beyond my usual sightlines.

The perfectly rounded balls golf balls were easy to spot among the pine cones. From a distance, their whiteness glowed.

This took concentration. But suddenly, in an area I had not noticed before, I saw a golf ball. And then another. A little further, another two. I was delighted. It felt as though I had nailed a hole-in-one.

I strolled down the deer-worn path, stepping over downed trees and ducking under branches, my head high. Two more golf balls jumped into view. And then another. No. It was one of God’s little green apples that had fallen from a tree I had never noticed.

I looked down; there was another golf ball.

Mmmm. This is what happens when I change my awareness, my view of the world. A new perspective, another dimension, a new reality.

When I started my business and we were building new office space, I wanted to hear ideas about what was important to my people.

Did they like working in a private office, a shared one? Or would they like a coffee shop-like vibe, with high counters, stools? Tables where they could have a group think?

“We need to ensure clients feel welcomed, safe and comfortable,” they told me.

How do we do that?

“Let’s have a comfortable seating space, close to the kitchen so the receptionist can easily give them a coffee. We need a receptionist who makes them feel at home.”

What else?

“We need a space where we can gather, eat pizza and do training.”

And so it went. A space was designed to suit both the staff and our clients.

As I was seeking others’ points of view from the people in my office, I was given another one, but this one cost me money.

Like most business people, I was always in a hurry to get from here to there and had the speeding tickets to prove it. As the police officer handed me my third ticket in a week, I had an a-ha moment: I needed to think like her, like a police officer.

As I analyzed the situation, I thought about my line of vision. It was as if the police knew where I knew where to look as I rounded the corner. They set up their radar just beyond that. And I got tickets.

As I learned to look beyond the obvious (and slow down), I got fewer tickets.

In business, I have used these two strategies countless times. Enlisting the insight of others to gain new perspective has given me ideas to make better decisions.

Looking beyond my usual patterns has changed the way I think and I am less fearful of trying new ideas and taking calculated risks.

As a business coach, one of my biggest frustrations working with a struggling business was an inability, a reluctance, a resistance from the owner to think outside his circumstances.

What if …? I would say:

Just think about this idea, work it through in your mind. If it has merit, let’s explore it. If it doesn’t, let’s come back to your present scenario and think of another idea.

We would do this until something clicked.

Some business owners did that. The other ones never made it.

What if you tilted your head and looked beyond your present circumstances?

What if you tilted your head and listened with curiosity to the ideas of those around you?

What if these actions opened your eyes to a new opportunity?

Being a great business leader is far from a side hustle, and it comes with more reward that collecting stray golf balls.

What if …?

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

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