Do you know this person? He has one idea. It might have been a good idea awhile back. It might be a reasonable place to begin thinking about solving a problem. But, when you boil it down, one idea makes for lousy problem-solving. It makes for a lousy workplace. That one idea person might be your boss.

The Boss’ Way

This is how we open mail. This is how we send out invoices. This is how we interact with vendors. This is how we eat a sandwich. I actually watched the principal of my elementary school teach the entire student body how to eat a sandwich at a school assembly. “You take a bite from either end and then the yummy one in the middle.” Even at eight years old, I knew this guy was a control freak (I just didn’t know the term). Obviously, the scene still haunts me.

There’s nothing more disempowering than having to do things one way. It narrows the opportunity for growth, productivity, agile competitive actions and fun. The one way or the highway approach is definitely is a joy-killer.

Are You the Boss of You?

You might have one idea about work, like the kind of work you’d like to do. Geographically, where you want to work. The size of the company. The type of company. The pay. The work alone at home or work in a skyscraper, Don Draper style.

Maybe you have piled up a lot of student loans, studying to do that one thing, learning the way you thought you would always want to do that thing. You invested a lot financially, psychologically and personally. Maybe you devoted yourself to Engineering. Anthropology. Business. Journalism. Fashion. Accounting.

In our society, we reward people for being single-minded. We call it laser-focus. We believe all go-getters needle nose their way through the pinhole that is uber success. They have their eyes on the prize. They run the race as the crow flies, without detours. They miss the backpacking through Europe and the street food in Asia. But, they got where they landed in record time. But, then they began to suspect there was more to life than the way they were living it.

That’s an awful penalty. And, living out the one idea way is a tough road, even if the destination made sense at one point in time. It narrows the opportunity for growth, productivity, agile competitive actions and fun. The one way or the highway approach to work is definitely is a joy-killer. Yup, just like the one-idea boss.

The Remedy For the One Idea

Try the second best idea. Then the third. Fourth and so on. Make a list of what you might do. Write it all the way down to the least logical thing. That might be astronaut. Or fire eater. Or accountant. Or fashion blogger.

Don’t be afraid to be ridiculous. Make yourself laugh.

Then, post the list where you can see it and let your brain go to work. See if you can unstick yourself from where you are, and take the journey to where you might better belong. Repeat as necessary.