Firefighter cadets in the academy have several exercises that imitate real-life scenarios that they undertake before they are qualified to be in their respective stations and to hold their respective ranks. These scenarios often have several environmental conditions that differentiate the exercise from the rest. For instance, the floors may not be stable, or the ceiling may collapse. Firefighters have to then think of how to navigate through these situations with the information beforehand. However, the real-world scenario often differs from their training. During the exercise drills, the information is already given and definite. The conditions may be less volatile than the real-world. There are often scenarios that we hear about that lead to the loss of the firefighters’ lives, or in less extreme situations, them being injured. We think about all these as avoidable in theory because they have undergone such training, but the reality is that not everything is predictable.
Situations in real-life are not predictable at all, but the methods used seem to always be linear. Let’s think about it this way. Company A and B both use the same methods to conduct their business. They generate leads the same way, and they sell the same products. Essentially, they are mirror copies of each other, as long as the business model is concerned. But these companies may not have the same end result. One of these companies may fail, and they may fail by a large margin. We ask why, since they are operating around the same principle, but the reality is not so simple. Truly, if it really is, then we simply need to follow the guidebooks of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and we are off to relaxing in the Bahamas.
I wish to postulate to you that the lessons we learnt serve as guides, and are not dogma. The situations we face are volatile, and it is necessary to use intuition at times. The solution found may sometimes be counter-intuitive. Let’s consider this example. In his book Sources Of Power, Gary Klein uses the example of a doctor not knowing where to insert the breathing tube into a newly-born baby because the area was clouded by pus. Visibly, there was simply no access point. The doctor then remembered a method where the paramedic sourced for a breathing point in a victim of a traffic accident through the presence of bubbles. Bubbles forming meant the escaping of air. Remembering this information, the doctor then looked at the baby and found nothing but yellow cysts obscuring the air passage. He then placed his palm and pushed onto the baby’s chest for one last puff of air, which led him to see small tiny bubbles of saliva between the cysts and maneuvered the tube into that area. The baby was saved.
In the above situation, the doctor could not tap into the examples that were taught to him by his past patients or that in Medical School. Instead, he tapped into a completely different scenario, with completely different age groups (one was an adult, the other was a child) and sourced for a solution. Remembering this analogy, the situations that any business presents us can vary, and may not be able to be solved by our past experiences. It is important sometimes to tap on other sources of information to solve problems. In fact, limiting your thoughts and plans only to what you know can be a dangerous recipe for disaster. Your business is not a ponzi scheme, where the money-making rubrics are straightforward and easy. Your business is a sophisticated form of art that varies and changes with the times. It is evermore important then to understand the various perspectives to know what to do and know what to do without.
Drawing back to the example of firefighters, the situations they experience are definitely not the same, but their intuition is shaped by the many things they have faced. They know when to enter buildings and when not to, even if there seemed to be nothing wrong. Their intuition is shaped by the many experiences they have faced since they were a novice.
Various perspectives can come from many angles. Mentors and coaches offer their insights, their shared experiences from the many other individuals they coached. Historically speaking, those who consult mentors have seen far more gains than doing so alone. Looking at information from just google and books can only bring you so far, but having someone else look from a different angle, free of bias can bring you to achieve even greater things. Bill Gates had Warren Buffet to learn his expertise despite how they were in completely different industries. It would be wise then to tap onto different angles and perspectives from advanced individuals when you are starting out, or even if you think you are at the apex. There is always something else that you can learn from mentors.