Many successful people practice visual positioning, where they visualize themselves succeeding or accomplishing something they’d like to do. That’s an internal practice. Others require something external, i.e. a role model to which they can aspire to be. My role in helping shape the future to provide more options to little girls begins with a question: Do we have any female pilots today?
You see, I fly a lot. This makes it easy to do this pet project. And, with only 6% of commercial airline pilots being women, the aviation industry is the most male-dominated industry in existence today (in the USA). I ask the question “Do we have any female pilots today?” every time I board an aircraft to the on-board, greeting flight attendant. I expect a “No” in response, and am delightfully surprised the few times I am told “Yes.” Finding a female pilot is ONLY the cherry on top (two is a bonanza!); and I post their photos on my public Facebook page (including the one above!). The finding is not the point; the question is.
First, what drives the question? Some of my friends believed I secretly wish to be a pilot. Wrong. Others believed my pilot picture posts to be a game of “I Spy.” No. One friend even believed I am “pressuring” and “forcing” girls to become pilots! Very wrong. Bottomline: It is hard for many to become what they can NOT see. If s/he can see it, s/he can be it. While my particular focus for this pet project is on little girls having more options, my bottom line regards anyone at any stage in his/her professional or personal development. More options = good; limited options < good.
In 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the 4-minute mile. Before him, no one believed a person could run that fast. Experts declared it was physically impossible. This belief became a “truth,” supported by people “in the know.” No one saw it to be true, therefore it was untrue and, consequently, no one tried. Historically speaking, physical competitions go back millennia, even before the “Olympics” in Ancient Greece; so, in other words, this is “just how things are.” (Have you heard that line in organizations? – self-limiting beliefs spurred by institutional history and organizational culture).
What do you suppose happened after Bannister broke the 4-minute mile? More than 1,400 people beat his record not too long afterwards. What made the difference?
Imagine this: You are the owner of an ice cream shop. You have a frequent customer. She comes in up to four times a week, which is much more often than most. Every time she enters your shop, she asks for a specific flavor – along with her regular purchase.
- What does her question lead you to think?
- How many customers would it take before you listen to your consumer base?
- What would it take for you to consider augmenting your product line?
In your organization (or as a member of society), do you see yourself as a victim of “that’s just how things are”? How difficult is it to ask a question? In pure coaching, questions result in more options. More options lead to better results. Better results create a stronger economy. What’s your contribution?
“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Francis Bacon
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, cultural integration expert, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2018