I’ve spent a good deal of time in China over the last 15 years. I love China – the people the places the sights the smells… the uniqueness. Spend enough time there or in any country that is vastly different in language and culture to our own and the lines that clearly define “normal” and “the way it’s done” begin to blur if you let them. If we are willing to take on this thought experiment we can learn a great deal about ourselves and sometimes identify things we do simply out of habit or tradition or because we tend to follow the herd. If we are able to reach the vantage point that allows such introspection, massive jumps in mindset, ability, productivity and success often follow.
Traditions can be useful culturally but doing things for no other reason than “that’s how we have always done it” is generally bad for business. The question is, of course, if we are used to a particular way of doing things and operate this way out of habit, how do we recognize and root out the things that we do “just because”?
The easiest way to identify and dispense with silly things we do simply because we have always done them is to respect the newcomer.
When a new team member joins the practice or a colleague visits, be sure to encourage them to ask critical questions – and mean it. If we can get a fresh perspective and we are willing to listen to questions about why we do what we do, we can learn about ourselves and our businesses from the point of view of a stranger in a strange land. This is something we cannot do for ourselves in our own business no matter how much we want to because we are blinded by our habits. The value of such insight is immeasurable if you can get it! It may be painful but change and growth always is. The good news is that it gets easier the more you embrace constructive criticism.