This morning I was delighted to see an email from an individual I really don’t know, but have been on a few calls with. He’s someone who I have a lot of respect for and he represents an area that I wouldn’t typically have a lot of dealings with, mainly government and regulation, two things out of my comfort zone. I was flattered – and intrigued – that he wanted to talk with me.
So I called him and we enjoyed a delightful conversation from the perspective of two worlds that rarely meet. It was so fun that I merged others into the call and we ended up having a love-in and I felt like we will make some major impact on human health as a result. Then I pondered, “If that individual hadn’t reached out, would this opportunity ever have come to life?” I had thought about some of these health initiatives before but had pretty much given up bringing these products to the masses through the existing companies I work with.
This was a blatant reminder that we have to move beyond our current circle of influencers. Start collaborating with people, companies or organizations that are way out of our comfort zone. In fact, the further out of our comfort zone the better. Is there a person or company that you feel is intriguing, but because the business – or the person – is not in your circle, you just don’t start a dialog?[tweetthis]Start collaborating with people, companies or organizations that are way out of our comfort zone.[/tweetthis]
Try to list all of them and start a concerted effort to reach out to all of them today. Yep, today.
Most business models (and even our natural tendencies) say to be safe and secure, keeping us sheltered. And most businesses go it alone because collaborations are not easy – but most business models are collaborations. And most extremely successful business models involve bold collaborations that were likely uncomfortable for everyone involved during the negotiation process.
It takes courage to collaborate: being willing to let go of ego, share the spoils of success, recover from someone else’s failures, and to let others influence your vision. This is the same whether it is a personal friendship or a business.
Through out my career, I find leaders that fascinate me. One of them that I find incredible and relevant to this discussion is Mr. Dee Hock, the Founder of Visa and Author of “The Chaordic Age Book.” I’m fascinated with how he looked at business and the world as being this combination of Chaos and Order.
He created Visa to be self-organizing and able to collaborate with any bank, anywhere in the world. This was a wildly different model than what MasterCard and American Express were doing at the time. It was an incredible model held together by a central processing system that does over a trillion transactions per year, yet most people have no idea where it’s headquartered or who the CEO is.[tweetthis]It takes courage to collaborate: being willing to let go of ego, share the spoils of success, recover from someone else’s failures, and to let others influence your vision.[/tweetthis]
I was so incredibly enamored with him and his ideas and how un-corporate they were, that I ended up meeting him for lunch. Imagine that, lunch with my absolute business idol. It was a joyous day that kept me going months after, as I was looking at all kinds of complex problems, from education to medical care. He was truly inspiring and even offered me a key learning point that I want to share with you.
He drew three concentric circles that encompassed his vision for collaborative business:
The center circle is the block and tackle of an industry: the sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, sales, marketing and customer service.
The second circle represents the things that impact the central circle: the banks, universities, supply chains, sales organizations.
The outermost circle represents the things that have no relationship to the inner circle: other industries, professions, products and cultures.
Then he looked at me and said, “You tie your business from the inner circle into a collaboration of at least one company or partner in the second and third circle, and you have a new model for business.”
If Mr. Hock wasn’t such a visionary, it would sound like an absurd idea, but he’s right, and the most progressive, successful and nimble businesses on the planet are doing just that.
Now I could bore you with several business examples of how powerful this theory is, but I want to talk about how powerful this theory can be in your life to build the relationships that are meaningful and important to us on a daily basis.
We all have people that are interesting and intriguing from different places with different points of view. Now if you did the exact same exercise and drew a center circle that represents your family and your existing immediate friends.
Then if you drew one more outer circle that includes maybe professionals you deal with or the local barista, the receptionist at your office building or whoever – these would be people that you see, but really don’t know anything about and have never really talked with. Maybe people you just said “hey” to occasionally.
Then a third outer circle that are people that you have read about or thought about, but would never reach out to. People you never really thought about being in a relationship with. And the further out there, the better.
Again I won’t bore you with how these people I’ve identified and contacted, like Dee Hock and many others, have been incredibly valuable to me throughout my life. Today, all of these “outer circle people” play an important role in my life, and I hope I do in theirs, as well.
You are incredible and extraordinary. You have an unbelievable gift and presence, and so does everyone one you come in contact with every step of the way in your life. When you appreciate them, they appreciate you and things just…work.
So get out there and appreciate everyone’s talents, embrace them and enjoy them.
Ok, here’s one little story: One day, I was thinking this way and went to my favorite coffee shop. I was on my way to a new office building for the New Organics Company and I was in this “getting out of my comfort zone” space and asked the Barista what he did other than make coffee. He said he was an architect.
I said, “Really?”
Yep, it was true. And he designed our 10,000 square foot office with the specifications of “no doors” and everyone loved it (well almost everyone).
So today, start with one circle and then move out to the next circle and reach out to all of these people around you with incredible gifts and talents. I promise you will have an exciting day and experience new worlds opening up to you.
Special thanks to my new friend who reached out this morning. YEAH! Right when I was getting a little complacent, I’m renewed with a passion to get out of my comfort zone again, starting now. I hope you do it too, because it will be fun and exciting.
To Beyond Your Comfort Zone!