I remember the day clearly, my uncle had bought my brother and I our first swiss army penknife for christmas. My brother (who is now an engineer) spent the morning carefully opening each knife and closing it again, paying close attention to safety and control. I decided it was much more important to mimic the display of the knife like I saw in retail outlets (I now run a digital marketing agency).

Image credit to www.victorinox.com

Whilst carefully mimicking the art of retail display I managed to get my right hand index finger stuck behind a blade which snapped back next to another blade. The outcome was that I ended up chopping off the tip of my index finger.

I quietly (believe it or not) walked over to the kitchen tap and started to wash the wound. My Dad arrived on the scene seconds later and I started feeling faint. Over the next hour or so my father applied every single scouts trick he knew to bandage the tip of my finger back onto my hand. It worked, I have a fully function right index fingure today almost 25 years later. The only side effect was that the tip on my right index finger was permanently numb for about 20 years.

Around the time this happened I was also learning my right from left. It was super easy for me because I would feel for my numb calloused index finger and always know which way was right. Until 20 years later when something interesting happened.

My left index finger started going numb and calloused because I was playing alot of guitar. I also starting to regain the feeling back in my right index finger.

All of a sudden I felt like a complete idiot not knowing my left from right. The mechanisms I had created for myself that defined my success in this area had changed and I had been completely caught out. Feeling very stupid.

I literally have a ton of stories about getting lost simply because I was told to go right and then went left or vice versa.

So what does this teach us about the future?

Quite simply, the mechanisms you developed to be successful today exist in a world that is in a constant state of flux. Some mechanisms, processes, research, innovation are going numb in the market, others are coming back to life and it is also quite possible that you’re not listening the the valuable input of the other eight fingers.

If you are not listening intently to the changes in your market you will lose your edge. You will start to feel lost in a world that was so familiar and your ability to add value could possibly become a joke.

Be humble enough to admit that your right way may have become a left way.