Take the time to use your imagination in business and you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve. It sounds easy enough, but leaders often have a difficult time letting go of the things they can see or touch to go after ideas that only exist in their minds. There is a lot more risk at play when you rely on your mind’s eye to shape the future of your business. But isn’t that why you are in a leadership position today — to make a great difference?
The great English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “They copied all they could follow, but they couldn’t copy my mind, and I left them sweating and stealing a year-and-a-half behind.”
No one has a mind like you and no one thinks exactly the way you do. You cannot afford to let such a valuable tool go to waste. Your ability to take the knowledge you have of your business and think about what else you could be doing to better serve your customers is what can set you apart from the competition.
The secret is that you need to allow yourself the time to think creatively. You can’t get bogged down dealing with the day-to-day challenges that your company faces. If you stop to put out today’s fire, there’s just going to be another crisis to confront tomorrow.
Delegate those problems that don’t require your presence to be solved and free yourself to think about the opportunities that could potentially transform your business. Sketch out a plan and consider the resources it would take to implement it. It might be a crazy idea that has no chance of happening, or it could be something that is years away from even being possible. But if you’re thinking about it, it just moved one step closer to being possible.
The famous quote first attributed to George Bernard Shaw and then to President John F. Kennedy says, “You see things, and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream of things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” That’s the approach that you must take as the leader of your business.
Life is too short to look at it any other way. Those who have the talent to lead and to build organizations have a responsibility to get the most out of those gifts. You can’t play it safe and you can’t worry about your own downside at the expense of growth opportunities. Failure is always a possibility and you may look back at a risk you took and wish you had not done it. But that’s far better than looking back and wondering what might have been if you had the courage to take a chance at a greater good.
Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business.