February 14, 2015
Healthy Disrespect for the Impossible
by Karen Wolfe
The workers' comp industry clearly requires change but seems to be impervious. Some healthy disrespect, a la Google's Larry Page, could help.
When people are extraordinarily successful, examining their characteristics, values and attitudes can be instructive. The rest of us can learn from them and possibly adopt some of them to advance our own goals. Larry Page, co-founder of Google is an example of one who has achieved exceptional heights. Peering into his thought process can be enlightening.
Page says, “Have a healthy disrespect for the impossible.”
To conceive and develop the Google concept and then the massive company, its young founders had to have a very healthy disrespect for the impossible. Others besmirched the idea of collecting all the information in the world and then making it available to everyone in the world. Not only was it a bold idea, it was thought by most to be ridiculous and impossible. But Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a very healthy disrespect for the impossible. They made it happen.
The concept of disrespecting the impossible could be entertained by those of us in the workers’ compensation industry. True, few of us are likely to reach the pinnacle level of Larry and Sergey, but we can borrow some of their bold thinking to get past the assumptions and barriers that keep us from achieving more.
Everyone agrees workers’ compensation as an industry needs a healthy nudge to try new things. The industry is known for its resistance to change. Maybe the way to change the industry, to be an industry disruptor, is to begin with an attitude of disrespecting the impossible.
Many people, including those in the workers’ compensation industry, focus on why something cannot be done. Reasons for this notion are many, but probably cultural tradition plays a role. Inventiveness is not expected or appreciated. Too often, the best way to keep a job in corporations is to keep your head down and avoid being noticed. Spearheading a new ideas is risky.
Stonewalling new ideas or doing things differently or adopting new technology in an organization thwarts creative thought and certainly diverts progress. I was once told that to incorporate a very good product would mean doing things differently in the organization. So the answer was automatically no!
We all know the old saying about the word “ass-u-me.” It actually packs some truth. To avoid the trap, check assumptions for veracity. Incorrect assumptions can be highly self-limiting.
Begin the process of problem-solving with new thinking — disrespect the impossible. What could be done if the perceived barriers did not exist? What could be accomplished if new methods were implemented.
Probably the most important ingredient for achievement in any context is tenacity. It’s easy to quit when the barriers seem daunting. Tenacity combined with a disrespect for the impossible might be unbeatable.