If you are a startup entrepreneur, there are moments when you feel stuck. You need radical thinking. Fresh perspectives. New ideas.
Next time, you need any of this, just “VUJA DE” yourself.
What’s Vuja de? We are all familiar with Deja vu, which is that distinct feeling you’ve been here or experienced something before. Vuja de is the opposite, it is that feeling when you enter a situation you’ve been in a thousand times before, but you re-look at familiar situations or everyday things as if you were seeing it for the first time.
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In every entrepreneur’s journey, at some point, you hit a roadblock. You constantly need to spark with new ideas and insights, the best way to do that is to look at the familiar— your products, customers, work processes as if seeing it for the first time. Adopting this view will allow you to think and notice outdated methods, unmet needs or untapped opportunities.
Why should we Vuja De?
In a startup journey, you accrete knowledge, integrating facts, figures and techniques. You perceive your startup as being constantly in motion and believe that as long as you are growing and moving forward, there is no need to step back or stop.
You need to think of new ways to achieve growth. So, most entrepreneurs do market research, meet new people, read books or articles etc. to achieve growth. But exponential growth happens when you can UNLEARN and RELOOK at everything with a new perspective. French novelist Marcel Proust said,
“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes. The vuja de will provide you with fresh perspective to make you aware of the opportunities and possibilities that always went unnoticed."
Unlearning means letting go of certain beliefs and assumptions that we have accumulated over years. Of course, vuja de isn’t just a way of looking at things; it involves a certain mindset that questions assumptions and refuses to accept things as they are. For example, if you are a fashion e-commerce website, and you want to achieve higher operational efficiency, you need to let go of what you already know about the existing processes or technologies, and ask questions like, why do we do things the way we do them or why the default exists in the first place? When you look from the vuja de perspective, you will be able to identify everyday routines and habitual behaviors. Adopting this view will allow you to notice outdated methods and identify untapped opportunities.
Bob Sutton, renowned author and professor at Stanford University, wrote about vuja de in his book called Weird Ideas That Work. He said-
“The vuja de mentality is the ability to keep shifting opinion and perception. It means shifting our focus from objects or patterns in the foreground to those in the background… It means thinking of things that are usually assumed to be negative as positive, and vice versa. It can mean reversing assumptions about cause and effect, or what matters most versus least. It means not traveling through life on automatic pilot.”
As Sutton puts it, if you want to open yourself up to vuja de insights, stop operating “on automatic pilot.” In your startup context, you need to inject elements of freshness into your familiar processes or routines - such as brainstorming sessions, change timings or host meetings in an unusual place. Powerful vuja de insights can happen anywhere- it could be your drawing room, cafes or places where people are living their lives and doing everyday things in a routine manner.
Stop chasing the same opportunities that your competitor is chasing, you may be missing an opportunity that everyone else is missing. If you see a different game then you will win big. Next time, you feel stuck and don’t know where to go, try to Vuja De yourself.
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