The mindset of a ninja offers us some very useful ways to approach our work. Over the next several months we will introduce you to each of the Think Productive Ninjas. All reflective of a characteristic to nurture and improve upon to become more productive in our day to day lives. We aim to help you boost productivity, reduce stress and remain calm by embracing your inner ninja.
Today we share the Unorthodoxy Ninja…
Think outside the box- remember that what’s most important is the end result. It doesn’t matter if you use the conventional route to get there or find an easier path. Be willing to question everything. It’s important to be on constant lookout for every opportunity to take advantage of progress and innovation and do things more easily. Just because a seasoned professional tells you something needs to take 16 hours, doesn’t make it true.
Do things Differently
We often end up doing things the old way and are happy not to change it too much. We must avoid getting stuck in a rut and doing things less efficiently than we could, at all costs. Don’t be afraid to stand out when the time is right. Doing things differently is risky, even when we’ve got a good hunch that we’ve got a better way of doing things. But this isn’t about chasing glory (although we’ll reluctantly and graciously accept it when it comes along); it’s about doing things in a better way and the satisfaction that comes from pushing boundaries to improve the process and increase productivity.
Push some boundaries
Pushing boundaries is easier when you’re not really pushing boundaries. This is one of the Ninja secrets. The exact problem you face at work today is a problem that someone in another industry faced yesterday and that someone else will face tomorrow. So just as we can model decision-making, we can also model innovation from elsewhere.
Injecting some fresh thinking into a situation and trying to see the problem through the lens of someone in a completely different area of work can be a useful technique.
If, for example, you’re looking to communicate more creatively, why not ask yourself, “How would an advertising agency do this?” or, “How would Nelson Mandela tackle this?”, or if you need more method in amongst the madness, ask how a surgeon or engineer would approach the task. And, if you know people who do those kinds of jobs, call them up and ask for their perspective. You’ll be surprised how effective this kind of modelling can be. Genuinely pushing boundaries is exciting, but can be a lot more time-consuming and takes a lot more effort than simple modelling. Innovation in one industry or job role can be the status quo somewhere else and vice versa.
Modelling & partners-in-crime
An obsession with unorthodoxy and innovation also means ditching some of the foolish creations of the ego: never be afraid or embarrassed or too proud to ask for advice, even if that means needing to show weakness. And never resist an opportunity to learn something new from a trusted source. Modelling the success of others is crucial.
Mentoring is a great way to do this: take advice from those who have travelled the road you’re setting out on, avoid making the mistakes they themselves made, and shortcut to success. Along with mentors, think about your ‘partners-in-crime’. Who are the people travelling a similar road at the same time as you? Chances are, they all have mentors too and are learning equally important things.
Never be afraid to share your learning with others as you’ll be amazed at the priceless lessons you get back in return. Sometimes we resist such collaborative approaches because we believe, like some kind of superhero, that there is some added virtue in achieving things on our own or in being competitive. Remember, the only thing that matters is whether you get there; no one cares how.
Break rules and disrespect bureaucracy
Whilst certain rules are worth upholding – and there are certain rules that would get you fired if you broke them – a Productivity Ninja approaches work with the mindset to focus on the end result first and work back from there.
Questioning of rules, especially in relation to bureaucracy, is a great skill. Remember that if the risk of serious repercussions is limited, it’s usually easier to apologize than to ask permission. There are times when we just need to show some leadership and crack on. Don’t be afraid to rip up the rulebook, especially if you can trash some tired old bureaucracy along the way.