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 Miller is a twenty-three-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is a co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team. He is also the author of the multiweek Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott writes a weekly leadership column for Inc.com and is a frequent contributor to Thrive Global. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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