Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success

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Shed ideas -- and grow

Q: President Obama, who is said to be wary of "outsiders," is facing his first senior-staff shuffle, in which he'll lose two of his closest aides. Do you see such times of change -- in Obama's example and in your own experience -- as a positive or a negative? Do you see your success as coming mostly from following your instincts and sticking to a tight-knit group of advisers, or from collaborating with a wide array of people?

Everyone to some degree is wary of outsiders; we can't really use that as a criticism or paint it as paranoia. We have all had that holiday dinner where someone brought a new friend for the first time and it just seemed to makes things a bit weird.

My dad, who is at that age where the ability to manage his mouth has left him, makes comments like "You don't seem like anyone my family would know." And my grandmother, a stoic woman from the Savannah area, would say to the stranger, "So who are your people?"

It's normal to be concerned and even to rush to judgment with the new people who will now interact with people you know and trust. Change is neither positive nor negative; it is just ... well ... inevitable. And though we know it's coming, it always seems to be a shock.

It's like when a loved one dies at age 90; we always say, "Wow, it was such a shock!" How is it surprising that a guy who lasted twice as long as most wallpaper glue is dead?

Change is not the problem; it's our resistance to change that causes problems. And the better you are at what you are doing, the more difficult it is to change. It's much easier to transition to something new if you sucked at what you had been doing before.

So if you are having a hard time with change, it means you were pretty good to begin with. It also means that if your ancient relative finally dies and you say, "Well, it's about time -- he outlived all his money and a good deal of mine," you are terrible person!

The real reason people don't like change is that nobody wants to be a senior beginner. No one wants to wake up one morning to realize that all the knowledge that made him or her valuable or proved his or her expertise no longer exists. That's why people cling to old ideas and personnel way beyond their expiration date. It's also why someone would marry the same person twice!

The only way to really advance a civilization or, for that matter, your own life is to shed people and ideas so you can create the space you need to grow. That's why term limits are in place and why governments run by the same person for over 20 years have really weird leaders who are regularly made fun of on Saturday Night Live.

I do think success can come from your instincts in times of, if you actually do have good instincts. The No. 1 instinct, of course, would be selecting the right people for your team. Next would be listening to them to guide your vision, not make it blurry from too much input. The final analysis on how well you did this can only come at the end of your reign, or life.

We often admire Abraham Lincoln (who was, in fact, a great man) because he surrounded himself with people who were talented but did not personally like him. We leave out the fact that they all (14 people) mysteriously turned down his invitation to the theater the night he was shot. So the key is to instinctively collaborate with those who don't want you dead!

By Garrison Wynn  |  October 4, 2010; 4:26 PM ET  | Category:  Success and instinct Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Great article! I definitely wouldn't want to be surrounded by people who want me dead. Maybe Honest Abe was a "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer kind of guy"?

Posted by: NateYencha | October 4, 2010 9:04 PM
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I have had excellent experiences collaborating with others throughout my endeavors but, at the end of the day, my own instincts have been the deciding factor for me. It may be that I have yet to have a real long term collaborative experience as my business path has tended to be somewhat transient. I am thankful to know from experience, that for the most part my instincts will apparently serve me well. I do feel that if one ignores the potential benefits of collaboration all together and runs through life on instinct alone that they are missing out. I also wholeheartedly agree not to collaborate with anyone that wants you dead!

Posted by: Rabbitsmoker | October 4, 2010 7:40 PM
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