Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” Like this cup, Nan-in said, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?
As an expert in your industry, it’s easy to get caught in preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be. These beliefs are based on years of tested experience and is a main source of any current success. However, it may also be the thing that is holding you back from developing more innovative ideas to push your business to the next level.
Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
Try this technique to empty your cup and gain a new perspective:
- Write down 10 “absolutes” for your industry. (e.g. Black Friday is the biggest day for sales in the year.)
- For each one, ask yourself, “What if that weren’t true? How would I do things differently?”
- Brainstorm various ideas on the different actions you would take based on that.
- Review those ideas and identify if there are any that you could implement that could innovate your business.