We Really Should....

'Should' can go the way of the Woolly Mammoth. It limits us, keeps us in a repetitive pattern of thinking and behavior. Think about it. Our parents used the 'should' word to teach us their version of right and wrong, to take responsibility and to follow the local cultural and social rules. And yes, some 'shoulds' are good things. We should be responsible, contributing members of society. We should follow the important guidelines of humanity. We should brush our teeth:)

The problem?

'Should' limits our new thinking and behaviors.

An early mentor asked me to listen to my inner 'shoulds' for a day'. It was an unforgettable exercise. Why? I learned that my 'shoulds' were creating an inner struggle. They wanted to keep me and my behavior in line with the accepted norms of the day. Not one single should was supportive of being different - or distinctive. As you can guess - I wanted a different path. So the internal dialogues began.

  • I should stay in my job, not build my own business. I was too young, it was too high risk. But I want to be a consultant and help many companies. I believe in me.
  • I should work fewer hours, stop traveling and settle down.But I love my work and want my freedom to explore this world of ours.
  • I should be afraid to travel to alone. But I want to climb the Himalyas, see Machu Picchu, dive in untouched waters.
  • I should work 5 days a week, 8-5 and live a normal life. I don't want others' normal - I want my own lifestyle and pace. I want to be free.
Thanks to that mentor, I began to break free of my 'shoulds'. I started my consulting business at 29 and never looked back. I worked my tail-off and found fulfillment in my own way. I traveled to Nepal and climbed through amazing mountains - including a Millenium trip to Everest. I dived with sharks and kayaked with whales in the middle of nowhere. I work a lot of hours, but on a very different schedule than the norm - one that supports my life priorities.

My point? I chose to abandon the 'shoulds' in favor of my truth in my life in my present. Business 'shoulds' are really no different.

'Should' keeps us stuck in our status quo.

When you hear someone say 'We should', it's a surefire flag that we're thinking in the wrong direction - toward the status quo. By its very nature 'should' keeps us in past thinking. It's a harbinger of programming based on the history of our business, of business in general and 'good sense'.

The problem is that many of our business 'shoulds' aren't valid anymore. The world changes, our market moves, our competitors are playing differently. Sticking to our 'shoulds' destines us to failure - we don't evolve. We stay stuck in whatever belief that 'should' represents.

'Should' can also give us the wrong message.

Case in point. We should take care of our customers.

Sounds reasonable doesn't it? ONLY if you constrain it. How many companies spend fortunes taking care of customers who aren't reciprocating by being reasonable, or true partners? How many times do you try to take care of someone and get bit by your response? Wanna read a great take on this 'should'? Check out Scott McKain's post on the Ultimate Customer Experience.

Let's all kick 'should' out of our business vocabulary.

We already know the fundamental principles about honesty, integrity and doing the right thing. That's the primary value 'should' brings. Embrace those principles and we'll no longer need the 'should' word.

To be successful, we have to think beyond the status quo. We have to think forward, not about what we 'should' do, but about what we can do that is new and different.

Instead of asking "What should we do?", ask something much more powerful.

"What CAN we do?"

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