Are you suffering from ‘Teflonitus’?

You’re successful.

You’re smart at managing yourself, your diary and commitments.

You avoid getting embroiled in time-consuming, and no doubt time-wasting, distractions.

Success is marked out by your surety in managing you, and the ever-growing list of demands on your precious time.

But hang on! Could you be cursed with a newly-diagnosed condition?  An ailment which undermines your future prospects? A malaise that might mean you are not be as smart as you think?

Are you suffering from ‘Teflonitus’ – a symptom of modern-day working practices?

If you have ‘Teflonitus’ – so called as like the non-stick coating, nothing sticks to you – you will be suffering from missed opportunities, blowing away potential good, making yourself blind to new chances to capitalize on gaining a competitive advantage.

Let me share with you how I discovered ‘Teflonitus’.

At a recent conference event I met a senior manager from an organization which champions entrepreneurship, new ways of thinking and doing.

As part of my marketing for Tubespiration! – where I use the London Underground as a classroom for teaching creative and strategic thinking – I recognize that I need to seed the product among potential  ‘Connectors’ (people  with potentially prime positions in a network who after first hand experience of a product can be a useful conduit for word-of-mouth and a champion for your cause.)

You would think that part of this person’s remit would be to be alert, open to new opportunities, and possibly be a curious, eager, early adopter.

So, if someone with a credible track record – not being too immodest here but I was voted ‘PR Practitioner of the Year’ by my professional body – who can talk a reasonable talk, and offers this person a no cost opportunity, that will take less than a lunchtime, of a new, mould-breaking, inspiring, and a novel way of engaging with creativity and innovation – you just might think it would stimulate a flicker of positive response.

But no! It was as if I was making a suggestion akin to offering to sell his grandmother. There was a steadfast refusal to concede to the slightest notion of giving something new a go.

On reflection, it seems there are three possible scenarios:

1. I was offering him a crap product.
2. To  use unPC terminology, I was ‘a nutter’
3. He was suffering from ‘Teflonitus’

‘Teflonitus’ I propose is a response to the demands of modern-day business life. Facing an ever- growing ‘To Do’ list, yes we need to manage our precious time, be brave and prepared to say ‘No’, and focus on your priorities.

But can we be guilty of going too far at times? Are we using a default ‘No’ setting too crudely, too  rigorously with insufficient flexibility? As a result could you be missing out on potentially beneficial new ventures?

In my creativity classes I teach how each of us have what I call a ‘Sagacity muscle’ that acts as our opportunity spotting radar to capture new ideas in our environment.

In my research for my latest book ‘Tubespiration!’ where I use the London Underground as a creativity tool I devised a ‘Harry Beck-ometer’ (So-called after the design genius responsible for the iconic design of the London Tube map was initially ignored by London Transport.)

The ‘Harry Beck-ometer’ consists of identifying five typical responses provided when faced with something unexpected, unprompted or uninvited:

Test how open you are to new ideas or opportunities.

If someone you don’t know has an idea that is different from how you currently do things, do you?

1. Ignore them, refuse to listen or just tell them to go away
2. Feel threatened by them or don’t make any decision
3. Add it to your pending pile with an intention to review it but never do
4. Agree to listen but with limited expectations
5. You are busy but you listen with benign scepticism – actively listening with a challenging yet open mind, ready to change as a result of what you have discovered

If you are scoring 1,2,  or 3’s in your responses you could be suffering from ‘Teflonitus’.

Teflonitus is a delusional condition: although you may think you are being smart in not letting things stick, to you, deftly deflecting new demands on you, you could come unstuck  in a very big way.

Are you like the guy who evidently lacked integrity in innovation by falling to practice what he preaches?

Are you suffering from Teflonitus?

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