Surprise yourself

surprise yourself

We all have different likes and dislikes. That’s just how it is. A personal example how is I like video games and although I do have preferences for shooters, sports and espionage; I’ll give any genre a shot.

People often ask me why I like a certain game and depending on my answer, they’ll decide to play it. It’s as if they’re asking for my permission. That’s crazy! In an age where we can rent video games for a few days and ‘test’ them out, there’s no need to make a commitment to buying. If we don’t like them we don’t buy them. It’s that simple!

The same behavior exists in other areas like business where executives want to know if a new idea has wings before it’s even put into play. It’s not that expensive to try one new thing a week.

Some see this as wasting their time and that’s the problem. Instead ask yourself: what did I learn from this experience?

My point is that just like acquiring new knowledge and skills takes time, you have to surprise yourself and put yourself in uncomfortable situations because that’s the best way to learn new things. A few ways to do this are:

Change roles

A great way to do this in the work environment is to switch roles with someone for a few weeks. By doing this you’ll be exposed to challenges from a different angle and this will give you multidimensional perspectives you need to solve your own problems. Who knows you might come up with a fresh solution nobody would’ve thought about.

Read widely

Another way to acquire new knowledge is go to a Borders or Barnes & Noble, grab a handful of magazines you’ve never read before and sit in a chair. Dig through them and see what happens. Ask yourself what’s interesting about what you’re reading. Get curious.

Yesterday I had a few hours to kill and headed to Borders, grabbed magazines of rock climbing, celebrity gossip, military history, aviation, national geographic and weapons. Read most of them, skimmed through others. Don’t you think I acquired new knowledge in that short amount of time? Of course I did.

Be a Yes Man

That’s right, become a Yes Man!. There’s even a movie with that name on it that’s all about ‘surprising yourself’ and it stars none other than Jim Carrey. The idea is to say yes to doing things you would never have thought of doing before with the intent of surprising yourself. If you’ve seen the movie then you know exactly what I mean.

The bottom line is: more of the same leads to boredom. The element of surprise is always the ultimate equalizer Smile

How do you surprise yourself?

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Bill Gates and the confirmation bias

Instead of confirming our beliefs we should spend time searching for ‘evidence’ that we are wrong. The intention is not to be a skeptic, but to set ourselves free from assumptions and see with clarity. Some of us will dig deeper than others but the important thing is that you dig to challenge your own thinking.
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  • what a fabulous picture!!!!! and a great idea on changing roles – one of the best i’ve heard — thank you!!!

    • Hi Deb,

      Changing roles is (as you know) incredibly difficult for people to do. Just the fact that we have to ‘fit’ into a ‘job description’ says it all. Another signal is when people say ‘it’s not my job’, that tells you there are some serious mental blocks.

      But it really is a lot of fun switching roles, lots of insights abound 🙂

      Cheers,

      Jorge

      • switching roles is just a brilliant idea…need to get it out more – thank you so much!!! but I can’t stop laughing at the Lucy picture!!!!! I can hear Desi yelling “LUUUUCCCYYYY!”

  • You nailed it my friend…role changing can produce extraordinary innovation outcomes. We have used the practice in the venue, sports ventures, ecommerce projects, and especially in the flying and launching of birds (satellites). Instead of being part of the puzzle, role changing produces puzzle builders.

    I bet you discovered a correlation between the varieties of topics, industries.

    Being a yes person brings the ultimate pizzazz….those ah hah moments…priceless!

    P.S. Now get to work and get the San Diego stakeholders shouting YES to a new Chargers stadium. 😉

    Cheers…Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      We’ve got some work to do no doubt. The Chargers are winning so that’s important but I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out. This has been an ongoing topic for a LONG time now, we have to have a new stadium.

      Could you explain how you’ve used role changing in one of your ventures? I do it all the time but very difficult to get others to ‘play’ along.

      Yes, reading disparate stuff that has no obvious association makes my brain look for patterns. Can’t say that I do it as an exercise, just naturally ingest information 🙂

      Yes Man is one of my all-time favorite Jim Carrey movies, it has a BIG message.

      Thanks,

      Jorge

  • Jorge, you are right on. When you practice game changing tactics, you challenge your brain in healthy ways. The human brain leaps to surprise and novelty. Also keeps you mentally alert as you age.

    • Hi Robyn,

      Thanks. We have to! One of my personal goals is to live to 100 (or more) and have a sharp mind, I think consistently changing routines is key to keep the mind flowing like water otherwise it becomes hardened soil.

      Cheers,

      Jorge

      • Jorge, once I realized how important it is to “change your game” daily, I’m living it to to keep my brain in the kind of shape I want it to be in when I’m 100!

        • Yes! Keep on sharpening the saw 😉

          Thanks,

          Jorge

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  • Jorge,

    Getting others to be a switch-hitter (role changer) can be a challenge. We have found if you take the lead and initiative as the frontrunner the roadmap is easier. In the bag of tricks of the X-files we have the role-changer to put the giant jigsaw puzzle together to change the perception into a reality state. This can be priceless to create puzzle builders that form silos of collaboration (daunting task in any organization).

    An example when I was at the stadium and arena complex a feud was occurring with the professional NFL and MLB teams over the playing field and turf with our groundskeepers. A few of us came into work dressed as were going to cut the grass at home. Within hours the lights went on with the issues, challenges, politics the groundskeepers face on a daily basis. It took a few weeks of all the parties talking to secure a happy resolution to all. Then the ah hah moment arrived, one of the groundskeepers wanted to role change for a few days in finance.

    We had a budgeting breakthrough where the silos were planning to a budget, we wanted a budgeting to a plan mentality. After a few days in finance, the groundskeeper got a good feel for our challenges. The peer to peer water-cooler chat started to spread and we put role-changer program together. We even had the unions buy into the idea which lead to innovation in a workforce management system that became sought by the industry. The CEO got into the action as a parking attendant collecting money for an event.

    On a personal level, the switch-hitter, role-changer process has allowed switch hitting into other industries and living a childhood dream as a space cadet flying goldeneyes (satellites) in space. This was accomplished by telling a role-changer story to compare and contrast…I encourage all to be a role-changer and puzzle builder, it can be a rollercoaster, but it is priceless and fun!

    Cheers…Steve

    • Good stuff! It’s definitely challenging and makes me think of the role that improvisational games can play to loosen up the screws. But no doubt it’s a worthy challenge to take on 😉

      Thanks for sharing!

      Cheers,

      Jorge

  • I sometimes feel like you’re headed in the right direction if it feels a bit uncomfortable… Launching or doing something new is going to be somewhat uncomfortable (but do it and excel and you’ll be pleased with the results). I felt this way when I first started my podcast. I was a bit uncomfortable listening to the replays (you know, the who “I don’t like how my voice sounds” thing). But it’s been a hit thus far! So I must be doing something right 🙂

    • Hi Ricardo,

      You’re right on that. Getting out of your comfort zone definitely gets the adrenaline going, and that’s always a good thing. Don’t know where I read it but it goes a little something like: If what you’re doing makes you nervous in a good way, keep going 🙂

      I can relate with you as I also started a podcast (in spanish) last year and it was definitely fun. Stopped it because of time constraints but it was definitely something new.

      Congrats!

      Cheers,

      Jorge

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