Is Your Experience Limiting You?

November 6, 2018 Scott Miller


Several years ago, I was preparing for a conversation with the original founder of TED, Richard Saul Wurman (he was delightful, for the record).

In my pre-call research, I watched a video of him sharing a concept of “peeling a banana from the bottom up.” In short, research on primates shows that they sometimes turn a banana upside down (who’s to say which end is really up, anyway?) and peel it from the bottom, eliminating those annoying “strings.” (Side note: the “strings” are called phloem bundles and transport nutrients to the banana.)

Saul uses this as a superb metaphor for looking at situations, problems, and opportunities from different vantage points. Too often we assess issues by employing strategies and solutions based only on our own fields of experience. Seems logical. “In the past, when I have faced a similar issue, I did this. My own history has taught me to do this. This reminds me of when…and here’s how I addressed it…”

Our fields of experience are generally a sound resource for tackling new issues.

However, have you ever thought that your well-vetted experiences may be preventing you from looking at opportunities from a fresh perspective? The more “reps” we have, the more likely we are to draw on our proven skills and see situations through our mature, but narrow lenses. This is both invaluable and limiting.

Next time you’re in a meeting and trying to solve an issue, bring a banana and share the story—it might free up creativity that was subconsciously stifled.


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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott J. Miller is Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Marketing Officer for FranklinCovey. Scott has been with the company for 20 years, and previously served as Vice President of Business Development and Marketing. His role as EVP and Chief Marketing Officer caps 12 years on the front line, working with thousands of client facilitators across many markets and countries.

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