The other day, my Branding and Marketing Mentor expressed concern about all the linear advice that I was getting regarding my business idea:
Can it work?
Should I do it?
Will it work?
As I type this post, I'm reminded of the feedback that I was given in my coaching program, specifically regarding my tendency to ask these types of questions of my clients. When I looked more closely, I found I wasn't just asking such questions of my clients, but of all sorts of people in my life on all sorts of topics:
Do you want juice?
Did you sleep well?
Did you have a good day?
Are you coming to bed soon?
In beginning language instruction, we have a very fancy name for these types of inquisitions: 'yes or no questions'. In German and Spanish, they are excellent questions for beginners to learn because they are so easy to form--simply reverse the subject and the verb that is offered in the statement, and raise your voice tone at the end (Hast du Hunger? = Have you hunger?). Information gathering questions, on the other hand, are much more complicated, in that you need to know which interrogative pronoun to use (who, what, where, why, etc.), as well as the order in which to arrange the words. There's also the much more complicated aspect of when to ask such questions, which drifts into the more nebulous region of cultural awareness. While not completely necessary to learn when acquiring a language, having such awareness can help us in a variety of ways (imagine asking your manager at work, for example, how his sex life is going with his wife--certainly wouldn't go over so well in most American circles...).
And so I wonder: am I getting a bunch of yes/no feedback about my business idea because I'm asking yes/no questions? Or do we live in a yes/no society where it's simply too complicated or awkward or scary or uncomfortable to gather information from people? Or is that, too, a type of yes/no boxed-in type of question that I'm posing, once again?
I know, I know, there is plenty of information that we can gather from people that doesn't come anywhere close to scary nor uncomfortable. 'What time is it?' certainly won't leave most people feeling awkward (unless you ask your PMS-y wife while she's sharing about her rough day). But my point is this: it's certainly outside the box to come at life from the side, and to look at HOW we might do things as opposed to IF...at least when it comes to ideas that go against the grain, like mine. As I'm learning, innovation springs from this lateral approach:
How might I find these executives I seek?
When would be a good time to interview them?
Who might have ideas for me to connect to them?
Where on the internet might I look to find ideas?
It certainly gets easier, this ability to explore sideways through the doubt and fear that failure looms when we don't follow the scripted route.
And with that ease and progress, I imagine, will come the paradigm shift that I know is necessary for this plan to work: Failure is my path to success. They taught us this early on in my Entrepreneurship 101 class at MIT. You've surely heard the saying about falling off the horse--but this graphic really sends it home. Failure really IS on my path to success. If I get 48 execs who think my idea sucks, and 2 of them who are willing to hire me, doors can open. In fact, doors can open with 50 no's. Or 100.
For me, though, I suppose that I'm bit afraid that I won't have it in me to get back up after 48, especially if all of them come back to back, before the glorious 2. I think that's where community comes in, though. That's when we call our friend in India and she sends us this awesome image. That's when we go to a coaching presentation and find tools to create visions. That's when we call our climate-skeptic dad and seek his love, even if he doubts the essential foundation upon which our business is built (love you, Dad, even if I'm not following the path you had in mind for me!)
Thanks for being part of my journey here! I'd love to hear from you, if you're willing go take the sideways route and add a comment...would be fun to hear where you are in yours.