Our emotional baggage does not make everything impossible to do - just the stuff that would make the world a better place. We can do the same thing every day like a reliable machine because we're living inside a stuck story. We can endure getting set-up to fail by blocking out the evidence of our doing more harm than good. We can overreact to what happens and show others we're not totally indifferent, distant or depressed. We can set-up subordinates to look like they're keeping busy even if it does no good at all. We can thrown money at problems that really need a better diagnosis and a proactive response. We can deliver goods and services that create the illusion of value while exploiting the ignorance and vulnerabilities in people and the environment.
All these dynamics create robust ecologies which persistently maintain costly problems. They also create phenomenal opportunities to launch disruptive innovations, authentic value propositions and new ways of getting work done. The baggage laden incumbents won't see it coming, will over-react to late and end up being their own worst enemies. But the breakthroughs won't happen if the innovators are equally laden with their own emotional baggage. They will join the crowd that maintains the misery and misdiagnoses the problems. They will inadvertently think like the incumbent enterprises that cannot disrupt themselves rather than leverage the opportunities create by baggage-laden incumbents.
Emotional baggage talks us out of being an innovator. It gets us thinking:
- "I cannot defy conventions, question authority, deviate from legacy practices or risk making a fool of myself"
- "I do not want to feel the urge make a change or to get motivated to start something new"
- "I don't know how to succeed at this, make a significant impact or see a project through to completion"
- "I'm no different from everyone else who is enduring the status quo, complying with policies and meeting others' expectations"
When we've resolved our own emotional baggage, the incumbents look like opportunities to leverage all this negative self-talk. We become free of those alluring pitfalls that could tempt us to merely do the opposite of the thinking induced by baggage. We embrace the process of changing our minds easily and allowing for that exploration to take some time, setbacks and learning. This transition process gets us thinking:
- "I cannot overcome entrenched power by direct assault, but I can ambush the incumbents with what they regard as inconceivable, impractical and far-fetched"
- "I do not want to chase after extrinsic rewards which mess up my creativity and self motivation, but this project generates an abundance of intrinsic rewards"
- "I don't know how to succeed at this yet, but I've got the curiosity to find out how and the confidence to learn from experimenting and failing early"
- "I'm the same as everyone else, gifted with unique attributes and experiences that spawn new ways to serve others and co-create value with them"
In other words, we're in a good place to go for it with a nuanced and strategic sense of the opportunity created by baggage-laden incumbents.