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Assuming You Know THE Answer Can Limit You
At one time or another, either consciously or unconsciously, each of us has explored questions such as: Who am I? What is possible for me? How do I fit in? And gathered information until we had what we perceived to be THE Answer and then lived our lives from that perspective, seldom checking to see if other answers are possible and discounting any information to the contrary. No? Never done that? Then think of the times when you decided on a political candidate or political agenda (e.g. climate change), where you have taken one point of view and defended it even in the face of overwhelming contradictory information. Or perhaps you know how to get to a particular destination. Although the route you take is a little out of the way, you do eventually get there. And when someone points out a shorter route, have you not justified your route with some weak excuse?
Some people jump to a conclusion or THE Answer on the flimsiest of evidence, while others study and gather information for some time and then 'lock in' their answer. In either case, once this answer is determined, many people stop looking for more information. They 'close their minds'.
Let's explore some areas where you may have come up with THE Answer that limits what is possible in some way. What about family members - your spouse, children, parents - have you made judgments about them or put them in a box that limits them or limits your interaction with them? Are you reluctant to explore or consider information to the contrary? What about your coworkers, boss, clients or neighbors, have you done the same thing? And then of course there is you.
What decisions have you made about yourself that limit what is possible for you? For example, I don't have enough education, I will never amount to anything, I can't speak in public, the world is a terrible place, I am the wrong age, sex, ethnic group, I'll never be a good parent, and the list goes on. And once you have what you perceive to be THE Answer, how often have you only accepted information that validates your answer and discarded information that is contrary to these new decisions or beliefs.
Act on the information you have and keep the question open while exploring new and perhaps contradictory information that indicates you are more than you believe. This is the path to personal discovery and growth.
Locking in THE Answer and not being open to other possibilities is more common than you may imagine. It even happens to well-known companies. For example, how many of these companies do you recognize? Rolls Royce, Bentley, Studebaker, Desoto, American Motors Corporation, RCA, Westinghouse, Sunbeam, Compaq, Atari, Burroughs, Digital Equipment, Wang Labs, Facit AB, WordPerfect, Sound Warehouse, K-mart, Montgomery Ward, Libbey Owens Ford, Braniff, Pan Am, Eastern Airlines. These are well-known companies that thought they knew THE Answer and either went out of business or were taken over by other companies because they did not take into account new information and keep up-to-date on emerging trends.
Just as companies have to re-invent themselves to fit into the changing business environment, each of us needs to re-invent ourselves to meet changing needs at work, in our relationships, in our families and our communities. And like companies, we can become emotionally bankrupt, feel as though we no longer exist or get taken over by others and lose our role or sense of direction, simply because we have locked ourselves into what we perceive to be THE Answer.
Work toward a healthy and compelling future by being open to exploring new and sometimes contradictory ideas.
Roger Ellerton PhD,CMC is a certified NLP trainer, coach, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies.