I am, no doubt, a challenger of status quo. It doesn’t really matter the topic, if it generates ‘group thinking’, red flags of doubt start to fly in my head. This trait did not evolve over time, I have always been this way. I know it often annoys people, but it’s embedded in my DNA – I don’t think I could harness it, if I tried. However, with experience, I have developed filters specific to this behavior, so…even when I’m questioning things, I think prior to opening my mouth…most of the time.
As a child, challenging things will lead to being labeled ‘stubborn’. I argue that stubborn implicates arguing for the sake of arguing. I actually avoid arguments as they are typically doomed before they begin – someone has to eventually concede or walk away agreeing to disagree – certainly not a win-win situation. I do, however, love a healthy debate full of verified information and respect.
I learned early in my corporate career, the only way to learn was to ask questions. As I settled in and found my voice, I realized the only way to improve the company and stay ahead of the competition, was to challenge current state. As a result, I found my edge. Of course, the only way this works successfully is to do your homework and arrive at the proverbial table armed with knowledge and grace.
The biggest secret to success in challenging what may be revered as ‘sacred’ is to approach each interaction with positive intent. What paves the road, in this journey, for success and protects it from degenerating into a meaningless argument is keeping what is best for the company and the workforce as your core motive.
The most important lesson to remember is what you propose may not be best. Your motive can never be ‘win at all cost’, remaining open to all ideas and listening for understanding are key to keeping your integrity intact and expanding your knowledge. Many times, raising the question is enough to interrupt the normal course of things long enough for everyone to look at things through a different lens.
In Tulsa, our economy is driven by many industries. Leading those are Energy (Oil & Gas), Healthcare, Aerospace and Entrepreneurialism. These industries have impact on a national level and are all going through transformation.
As a city who is constantly touted as ‘One of the best’ for raising a family, creating wealth, purchasing a home, etc., we have every reason to challenge our own status quo. We are, obviously, on the right track and we have all the tools to continue to be one of the ‘best’ cities in the country. That being true, this is not the time for Tulsa to rest on its laurels. We have great people, a steady economy, solid companies and the wildcat spirit that this city was founded upon.
If you are digging your way out of the snow and plan to return to work this week, perhaps you will have an opportunity to raise a question that will be the catalyst for continued growth and improvement in one of the greatest cities in the country…raise your hand!