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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Press Release: To Grow Sustainably, Let More Cars in Your "Mental Garage"

Mar 25, 2013 12:00AM

Contact: Mark Hurwich Phone: 949-342-6224

Trying to grow fresh opportunities in 2013…but feel a bit tired or stale?

I was curious about how a business owner/artist (actually, a tattooist who happens to be my sister Meryl) got so creative - embracing lots of new ideas and uncovering possibilities few other clients did. She deeply appreciated the environment around her, listening with less judgment and evolving her business and life in a very organic, sustainable way. How’d she get there?

Meryl told me: “Years ago, I realized people act as if they park ideas in a garage with room for only ten or so cars, and the cars must all get along with each other. Every new idea gets compared to the old ones - ‘yup, this fits with the ideas I have…nope, not that one’—so not a lot gets in that doesn’t match what’s already there.”

Once she saw how this filter eliminated innovative opportunities before she even test-drove them, she uncovered a novel way to let more in.

“I realized I couldn’t stop comparing. But rather than a simple ‘yup/nope’ I added a third option for ideas that don’t fit my mental model yet appeal to me or I know I need to reflect openly on. It sounds silly, but when I encounter ‘bad fit’ ideas, I just recall that garage metaphor and tell myself I’m adding another floor for different cars. It keeps the part of me that wants consistency occupied and happy - and I’m able to explore more with less stress. Especially with practice.” She might ultimately not keep those floors/new cars...but it gives her a broader lens to see opportunities and more options to pursue them.

One example? Good tattooists learn by apprenticing - it can take years. Meryl had won enough awards and referrals that she knew she was accomplished…but when she compared herself to her teacher, she couldn’t see taking an apprentice on. Yet when someone who interned with Meryl was ready to sign up with a less experienced tattooist in order to get trained, Meryl realized it was time to let the “I’m not a good teacher” car out of her mental garage. And she has one apprentice and another in the wings as result.

A second example? How many times in your own life or business has someone suggested something that seemed…uhm…dumb? And you found yourself struggling between finding a polite way to say so, and an admonition like “the customer’s always right.” That happens in Meryl’s studio all of the time—people have ideas for art that won’t look good, especially because skin isn’t as welcoming a medium for pigment as canvas. Meryl found a way to let that judgmental energy out of her system by simply making space for those cars in her garage without having to compare them to others...which enables her to listen to what her clients have to say, and often times find a creative solution because she can capture the essence of a new idea and integrate it with what her experience tells her will really work.

You can do the same. Let yourself notice those moments where a part of you is saying “nope” but another is illogically curious. Especially when it relates to an opportunity to get a little more “green” or bring in an element of what you LOVE in what no one else seems to be attentive to. And when you do, open another floor in your own mental garage to let the new idea park for a while.

You might even find yourself driving a hybrid. Submitted by: Mark Hurwich, Concentrated Coaching. Hurwich’s work enables people stalled in important in work/life pursuits to dissolve blocks and open paths to the results they want. Specializing in entrepreneurs’ and writers’ block, Hurwich works in a concentrated way (3 hour session + prep/follow-up); exploratory sessions are free. Visit or call 949-342-6224. For Meryl Hurwich, visit in Stroudsburg, PA.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect in any way those of Natural Awakenings magazine and its employees.

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