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Uncovering growth areas in unknowns

We find opportunities down the path of the unknown

The path to the unknown

Paulo Coelho wrote in his novel Brida, "How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it." This somewhat oxymoronic statement is filled with a lot of wisdom, and is rooted on the fixed mindset. Let us dive a little deeper into what this means and how this helps us find opportunities in business and in life.

In the Johari Window, there are four panels, as shown:

The two panels on the right correspond to the knowledge that we are ignorant of. What Coelho was lamenting about were the missed opportunities while looking for them in the known (left) column. After all, you can only be aware of what you miss if these are known to you! And by looking at them in the known column, he missed out of the opportunities in the unknown column.

Let me put it another way; you need to find opportunities outside of your knowledge space. And that means stepping into the unknown. Is it scary? You bet! But if we took the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of learning, the spirit of growth, we can guide ourselves down that path. Here are three things you can do to step into the unknown...

1. Ask for others' opinion

People hold a lot of opinions of you, your thinking, your actions, your successes. Many of them prefer to keep these opinions to themselves for fear of offending you. But you know what? These opinions are gems that offer new ways of doing things, that offer new perspectives, and that offer a chance to find new opportunities. Just swallow your pride and ask, "What do you think of the way I had handled this?"

2. Be a contrarian

We are guided by our assumptions. Another great way to walk down the path of knowledge is to question our assumptions and then take the contrarian path! One assumption that my wife and I questioned a long time ago was that tuition is good for our children's grades. We decided to take the contrarian point that it is NOT good for our children, and fifteen years later, we have 5 very independent learners in our home who drive, and are driven by, their own thirst for knowledge. Sure, they might not a great test-takers, but they are great life-livers.

3. Destroy the status quo

So you are comfortable with your job, your salary, your life? What new opportunities do you find in them? For many, they have traded novelty for stability, excitement for contentment. Not that there is anything wrong in it, except that if you have another 30 or 40 years in your life, can you see yourself doing the same thing over and over again? Why not destroy the status quo while you are on top? Why wait for something to happen TO you? Shake the boat, create a little uncertainty, and see what new opportunities life throws up at you!

It is only in moving down the road less travelled, the path of the unknown, that we find new opportunities. Do it while you can afford to, otherwise you too might be lamenting, "How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it."


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