A breakthrough consists of seeing possibilities and opportunities that you did not see before. Breakthroughs enable you to take actions you have not taken before, so you can produce results you have not produced before.
The single best way to create new possibilities and opportunities that did not exist for you before is to unlearn what you already think is true. Let me explain how that works.
How unlearning creates new possibilities
Remember that your beliefs about reality are reality for you. If you believe I’m not loveable, relationships don’t work, and people can’t be trusted, your chance for a good long-term nurturing relationship is slim to nil. Can you see that if you were to unlearn these and other related beliefs, you literally would have created the possibility of a good long-term nurturing relationship—that hadn’t existed before for you? You would have created a breakthrough in your relationships.
Here’s another example. If you believe that mistakes and failure are bad, if I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected, I’m not good enough, and I’m not capable or competent, your ability to start something you have never done before (and where failure is a real possibility) is slim to nil. Can you see that if you were to eliminate these and other related beliefs you literally would have created the possibility to try something new and be innovative—that hadn’t existed before? You would have created a breakthrough in your ability to be innovative.
In other words, possibilities and opportunities are largely a function of how you see yourself, people, and life. One set of beliefs closes down possibilities; unlearn those beliefs and possibilities appear, seemingly from out of nowhere.
Here’s another way of looking at this issue. There are an infinite number of possibilities and opportunities out there in reality. Your beliefs determine which ones you can see. Have you ever had the experience of reading about someone else’s breakthrough and thinking: Why didn’t I think of that? The answer: Because you had beliefs that blinded you to the possibility.
Organizational breakthroughs also come from unlearning
For years the people at Lands’ End tried and failed to reduce the time it took to move new products from conception to catalog. Before we began working with them it took 14 months. The Gap and Limited went from idea to store in six months. The people at Lands’ End were vastly inefficient by comparison and they knew it.
The executives and the managers in each department tried to make the departments more efficient—they tried to speed up design, purchasing, inventory, quality control and catalog. They barely made a dent in the time it took to bring a product idea to market despite all their efforts.
When I worked with them I knew that a breakthrough was needed and that this breakthrough wouldn’t come from doing anything obvious like trying to improve the efficiency of the different departments. I also had no idea what they needed to do. But I knew my approach to creating innovations would help.
So I held workshops to help the top management and department managers examine their assumptions using the Lefkoe Method.
Over 700 people began to question their definitions of their jobs and the role of their departments. They came up with many suggestions and a company-wide committee was formed with people from all departments and all levels of management to solve the problem.
What they found was very simple yet it led to a very powerful solution.
We discovered that everyone in the company had the belief, “We have to have different departments, each of which is responsible for a different function.”
This “department system” was every inefficient. Each department had to communicate with other departments to get things done. This caused tasks that required several departments to work together to take a lot of time.
Once this belief was identified and eliminated, we put together a team of management and non-management employees to come up with an innovative solution to the problem that wouldn’t have been impossible before.
They suggested that Lands’ End get rid of the many cumbersome departments and replace them with “product teams” that had specialists in the different areas (e.g., Catalog specialist, Design specialist, Inventory specialist, etc).
Management loved the idea and decided to put it into action. Each group, such as the men’s accessory team, was responsible for coming up with ideas for new products, contracting with vendors, being responsible for inventory and quality control, etc. No time was wasted in interactions between departments because they no longer existed.
The new time from conception to catalog: six months.
Mike Smith, who was CEO of Lands’ End when this new strategy was being implemented, said:
“The Lefkoe Institute broadened our thinking by getting us to question some of our long-held beliefs. That enabled us to develop new solutions we couldn’t have even imagined before. LI’s techniques peel away old ways of thinking and open the mind to realizing that almost anything is possible.”
Unlearning beliefs eliminates negatives and creates positives
We often see the purpose of unlearning beliefs as helping us eliminate a behavioral or emotional problem in our lives, such as procrastination or a fear of public speaking. Eliminating beliefs does help us eliminate negative behaviors and emotions. But the “positive” aspect of eliminating beliefs—creating new possibilities and opportunities—is at least as important.
Take a look at your own life and see where you would like to create a breakthrough. In your work, in your relationships, in your leisure time activities, etc. And then ask yourself: How am I seeing the world that is limiting me? What beliefs could I eliminate that would open up new possibilities and opportunities that would make my life a lot more fun and successful?
You’d be surprised how easy it is to create miraculous breakthroughs in your life.
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Copyright © 2014 Morty Lefkoe