Is Your Experience Limiting You?


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 Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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