In business and leadership, we all spend a great deal of time living with assumptions that are just no longer relevant. Our outdated beliefs, the way we operate, the books we read and the people we spend time with help contribute to our dedication to those assumptions. If we live with outdated assumptions, we will never get ahead and be as successful as we want to be. We all have to be constantly challenging our assumptions to see if they are serving us or holding us back.
As I am writing about this, I cannot help but think about people who have challenged assumptions only to become some of the world’s greatest business leaders.
Steve Jobs: Jobs challenged the assumption that the only way to get access to legal music was to buy it from a music store and to buy it on a CD that included at least a dozen songs. He looked at what Napster was giving away for free (illegally of course), and he saw the ability to download 10,000 individual songs onto a small device that could fit in the palm of your hand. Anyone can now buy just one song on iTumes for a little over $1.00, and most brick and mortar business stores have said good-bye to the consumers of music.
Fred Smith, Founder of Fed Ex: In the shipping business, there was an assumption that the fastest way to get a package to a buyer was to ship it directly. Smith then thought of shipping the package to a central hub in Memphis, TN and then to get the packages from there to the shipper using all shipping logistics…to make things quicker and more efficient. His idea was comical to many, and Fed Ex was born. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think I could make it without Fed Ex. I love having something I need now delivered overnight.
Ted Turner: The old assumption was one that said that news would be delivered for 30 minutes each evening around 6:30 or 7:00 Eastern, and that would be it for the day. Then, Ted Turner had an idea…What if news could be delivered 24 hours a day? We could get breaking news out immediately as it was happening. Again…people thought Turner was crazy! Yep…crazy like a fox, and CNN was born.
Tom Anderson, Founder of My Space. The old assumption was that talking, texting or email were the only ways people could communicate. Then My Space came along (yes…before Facebook), and people began communicating in online communities and sharing their lives with the world. Other social networking platforms popped up, but My Space was the first big one that broke through the ceiling.
In leadership coaching, I am always asking my clients to look at any limiting, outdated beliefs, systems, procedures or processes that may be getting in their way of success. I encourage you to do the same. These four people did not let their old belief systems get in their way. They knew what the public wanted even before they knew they wanted it. As someone who orders about 50% of my household goods, clothing and shoes online, like the ones in ShoeFinale and who listens to my iPod everyday, I cannot imagine life today without the above four people challenging their assumptions and bringing new products and services into my life that do make life easier and more fun.
As I close this post, I want to ask you “What assumptions are you holding in your mind that are getting in your way of success?” I encourage you to leave your comments below.