Opposing Views: A Difference of Opinion Can Provide Valuable Insight

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Opposing Views: A Difference of Opinion Can Provide Valuable Insight

When building the support system that informs your business decisions and practices, what mentors and advisors have your ear? As a business owner, you’re only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself. And since it “takes a village” to maintain and grow a business, it’s important to take counsel from a diverse group of individuals with differing outlooks from your own. Rather than operating in an echo chamber of “yes men,” you’ll be giving yourself the advantage of a variety of points of view.

Before you can find those whose opinions differ, you need to be clear on your own viewpoints from which you run your business. Consider issues like your motivation, business model and goals - both short and long term. You’ll be surprised to discover what you’ll learn about how and why you do what you do by this self-examination exercise!

It can be a little daunting, however, to accept ideas from others, regardless of how intelligent and successful they may be. After all, entrepreneurs are cut from the “rugged individualist” cloth. We like to do things our own way and on our own terms. Nonetheless, listening to a variety of viewpoints is a highly effective way to avoid becoming stale or stuck in less-than-productive patterns. Here are some tips for making the most from consulting with other-minded advisors:

1. Purposely seek out those with differing outlooks from your own. This is an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by others’ strengths. If you tend to be an optimist, find someone who operates from a more pessimistic mindset to help heighten your awareness of potential pitfalls. If you’re a risk taker, consult with someone who is more conservative to gain perspective on the benefits of restraint. If you’re slow and steady, listen to someone more impulsive to learn the benefits of following your intuition.

2. Listen with an open mind. This may sound easy or even self-evident, but you may not even realize that there are alternative ways to look at situations until you hear them. It may not have occurred to you that a sprinkling of pessimism could help you anticipate potential problems or obstacles. What you think are perfectly legitimate and appropriate motivations may be starkly different than those another person uses to inform and power their decisions. Hearing their rationale may just prove eye-opening to you.

3. Try not to judge one way or another. A differing viewpoint is just that - different. It’s not inherently right or wrong. The point of being exposed to an outlook that runs counter to yours is to challenge you to examine your own decision making process. Try to understand how a particular outlook suits the other party; that will help you see its overall validity, whether it would work for you or not.

4. Cull the wisdom from the viewpoint. Whether you decide the opposing outlook would suit your business or not, you can glean some insight from it. Even if you simply can’t justify using your intuition over your intellect in most situations, for instance, recognize that it can be a valuable ability in some circumstances. You needn’t adopt the viewpoint as your own - you merely have to acknowledge that there is more than one appropriate way to look at a situation. Consider the insight another arrow in your operational quill.

5. There’s no harm in trying on a new outlook. In the event that your mind is swayed by your exposure to an opposing viewpoint, you can try it on for size. It won’t be engraved in stone if you decide, for example, that taking more risks takes you out of your comfort zone, you can always return to your more conservative way of operating. At least you’ll have tried approaching from another direction and will feel confident t that you’re being legitimately true to yourself.

Seeing - and operating from - only your own point of view is a sure way to get stuck in a proverbial rut. Broadening your motivation horizon by inviting opposite outlooks is an effective way to ensure that you remain agile in running your business. Challenge yourself to find advisors who approach their business differently than you to discover new pathways to successful entrepreneurship.

Who do you know who could give you an opposing perspective on business?

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