By Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender
A man named Nick has just landed a job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Starting as a trainee, Nick goes through the usual sales training exercises and activities. The last two days of training involve being sent to a test neighborhood to practice his door-to-door craft. Lots of sales trainees have visited this same neighborhood, so they leave the office with a warning: No one will buy a vacuum cleaner from you, so just practice greeting customers and getting your foot in the door – but no one warned Nick.
Nick hit the streets not knowing he wouldn’t be able to sell a vacuum cleaner in this neighborhood if his life depended on it. He didn’t know it was a cold market, so he unleashed what he learned in sales training and sold a record number of vacuum cleaners. There’s power in intelligent ignorance.
Nick didn’t let history or what they weren’t supposed to do dictate their actions – and neither can you. Never let assumptions or people who say “That can’t be done,” or “We’ve done that before and it didn’t work,” stop you from trying new and innovative things for your life and your business.
We asked a few local entrepreneurs we occasionally partner with to take 30 minutes to brainstorm new and innovative ideas for a client of ours. Under the rules of brainstorming, no one gets to say, “That’s a stupid idea” even if it’s a stupid idea, because what one person thinks is crazy just might lead to an incredible idea by someone else.
Then, we asked each person to share what he or she had come up with. In just 20 minutes, the room was buzzing with fresh ideas and implementation strategies were bouncing off the walls.
The solutions that came from this brainstorming session surprised us; they didn’t fit the paradigms of successful strategies we’d seen and used before, but that’s the point. People from outside your inner circle have an uncanny ability to look at your business and make suggestions with fresh eyes.
That’s what we did. We merged the strategies our partners shared with us, tweaking as we went along. Then, we did a few test implementations to see what would happen and the strategies worked. We knew now what to suggest to our client and how to present it.
Two weeks later, we presented our tweaked intelligent ignorance ideas. It was tense at first, as our client’s team mulled over the strategies we shared. Then, the lights started to come on, as one person after another said, “Why didn’t we think of that?” “That makes perfect sense, how did we miss it?” They thought we were brilliant; the strategies certainly were.
Don’t let past history dictate your actions or compromise your decisions. Ask for help. Sometimes those with the least amount of experience can see the path to success more clearly than you can. Know that it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to be intelligently ignorant.