Early in my career with a large vaccine manufacturer, I accepted a position that took me hundreds of miles away from my home in France to Southeast Asia. I lived in Bangkok, Thailand, for the next five years and worked as the marketing lead for the region. I loved everything about the job and the location – it gave me valuable leadership experience, I traveled throughout the region and I even learned how to speak Thai!
Over the course of my career, I made several moves that, to an outside observer, may have seemed sweeping and even unpredictable. I moved back to France, relocated to the U.S., back to France again and then to Italy, and also crossed over to the pharmaceutical industry.
I was fortunate that I was able to look at all of these changes in a positive way. Change can often be seen as negative and may be accompanied by self-doubt. It may even raise questions that, for me, could have sounded like, “What if I don’t have the skills?” or “What if I can’t adapt to a new country and learn the language?”
But just consider the totally different outlook and positive mindset that follows when those questions are turned around: “What if I can learn the skills?” “What if I can speak the language?” “What if I do have the competencies that this position/role/company needs?”
I have found that asking “What if?” is a powerful tool that leads to positive and innovative thinking and I have used it consistently over the course of my career. It’s now part of my DNA.
In my role as a leader, I encourage my team to use “What if” as well. The Innovation Room at our Rome office is equipped with the tools that are useful in imagining all the possibilities of a situation. The modular space includes a slate board and a digital board for brainstorming and, based on the memorable and best-selling book that encourages critical thinking, Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono, six different colored hats.