Bridge Thinking

Recently, I’ve been thinking about bridges and how “bridge thinking” might help you to be successful.

Bridges have always intrigued me. Even since I was a child, I would spot bridges and beg my parents to change their route in order to go over the biggest ones. A favorite bridge is the Navajo Bridge at the Grand Canyon. This bridge made it possible for travelers to access the North Rim of the canyon without having to use a ferry (which wasn’t possible when there was flooding).

Bridges do three amazing things:
  • First, they help people reach a destination that without a bridge wouldn’t be possible.
  • Second, they bring travelers from a vast array of places to one simple and organized point. It directs them simply and exactly what to do, and allows them to do it.
  • Third, they are often a perfect blend of form and function that is aesthetically beautiful. Some of the most highly recognizable pieces of architecture in our day are in fact bridges.
These three key principles are also applicable in business.

For example, leaders such as Sergey Brin and Larry Page were bridges to information. Bill Gates was a bridge to computing and allowed people to access the destination of software. Mark Zuckerberg built a better bridge for people to connect to people. These are more recent and obvious examples but history is replete of visionaries who bridged the world to new ideas: Tesla, William Osler, Gutenberg, and so many others.

Consider the effect that building a bridge might have on your success.

Here are a couple of ideas to consider:

For sales professionals

Think of a sale not as a destination but as a bridge in order to get them to their real destination. If a traveler is trying to reach San Francisco from Marin City, they don’t arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge and then stop. They continue on until they reach the City of San Francisco. While it may seem overly simplified, too many sales reps forget the deeper reasons people are buying a product.

For example, if you are selling a weight loss nutritional supplement you might ask yourself: “Why do people want my supplement?” The quick answer is obvious, to lose weight. But why do they want to lose weight? Is it for a wedding? Is it to attract a specific person?  Or are they training to run a half-marathon? Now, let’s take it another step forward. What will it mean to that person once they’ve successfully achieved their desired pursuit? How will they feel about themselves? What will they now be able to do with themselves? There is your destination.

Your products or services are a bridge to what they really want: to reach their destination. They just need to really believe that your product is the right bridge that will take them there.

Finding out what that is will help you talk to that client on a far deeper, more powerful level. Utilize better questions and a relationship of trust to help get there.

For marketing professionals

Renew your consideration of aesthetic in what you are doing. Simplify your message. Simplify your product, and direct people with it. We all appreciate beautiful things, and often times the most beautiful things are found in the simplest form. One marketing graphic doesn’t have to address every market segment that you are working in. Get as simple and beautiful as possible while helping people understand what to do next. That is bridge thinking.

For business professionals

Don’t be afraid to use bridges.  Decide for yourself the destination that you didn’t think was possible to attain this year and start finding bridges that can help you get there. You may need to network with more people, get more training, or start building a new community of like-minded people. Get clear on your goals by writing down, “At the end of 2015 I want to do, have, be, ___.” Write down how you will feel when you accomplish that goal, then write down three hurdles that you must get over in order to achieve it. Those hurdles are where you need to find bridges (or use bridges you already have).  There is so much excitement when you realize that you have reached the beginning of the bridge that is going to take you to your destination, and all you have to do is cross. Which leaves me to my last point,

For everyone else

Don’t jump off the bridge. Don’t get to your bridge, commence crossing it, then suddenly jump off or turn around and go back the other way. Once you are on your bridge, congratulate yourself! Keep moving forward on it until you reach your destination. We have all taken bridges of different sizes, and some require a toll. If your bridge requires a toll, be willing to make that payment until you achieve that destination. Don’t give up on yourself and your unbelievable ability to go where you want to go.