You’re in a Museum

Look around you – what do you see? The businesses, the tools, the structures, the systems, the products, the solutions….we see all this and we think, “this is what is.”

But, in fact, what is exists because of what was. All of these things were created to address past problems, prior issues, old needs.

You’re in a museum.

In fact, when you look turn and gaze at all that surrounds you, what you see is not some fixed series of boundaries set in stone – not unless you let it be so. What you see are the best attempts to deal with the past.

Of course, many structures are put in place to address enduring needs, and cannot be cast overboard entirely as so much ballast. But even those often need improvement or adjustment.

You don’t have to fit into other people’s corporate structures, expected roles, and hand-me-down expectations. You may choose to, for a season – but why decide to set down your roots within those walls when you can invest in present and future needs?

Yes, it’s comfortable to conform to a niche that was built by someone else, for some other reason, at some other time.

But museums are dusty places that seek to preserve the past. Here are several questions – think of them as new contact lenses – to get you thinking in different directions:

    1. What is actually not working?
    2. What is missing and should be created?
    3. How could this be better?
    5. What do I want to leave behind as a legacy?
    6. How can ideal become real?
    7. What would I REALLY want to make happen if there were no limits?
    8. Why? And, while we’re at it – why not?

In other words – question the status quo. You don’t exist to support it, and certainly your purpose isn’t merely to perpetuate it. Learn from the past, keep what is sound – but beyond the front door of the museum is where your creative juices will flow. Relics are inside. Opportunities are outside.

Things are the way they are for a reason, but some of those reasons are bad, some are in need of adjustment, and some are well past their expiration date. Just because you grew up with video rental stores on every other street corner, doesn’t mean you should be buying into a franchise peddling VCR tapes.

It’s much scarier fun plowing in new fields, and much more rewarding making the pie bigger!


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

6 Responses to You’re in a Museum

  1. Ah, yes…plowing in new fields can certainly be a lot of fun, ey?

    Of course, when we plow in new fields, it’s easy to feel we’re ahead of the curve; ahead of the pack. At times, we may even feel alone and unsupported as we plow those fields.

    And that’s why we have museums.

    The museums (the past) converge with the plow (the future) to remind us that there have been many, many leaders before us who plowed new fields successfully. They remind us we are not, in fact, alone.

    So, yeah, we need both; the museums and the plows.

    We plow. We gather.
    We create greatness. We remember that greatness.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking piece, Steve!

  2. Tim Kastelle says:

    Really nice post Steve (and thanks for the link back to my blog). I think that breaking out of established paths is really difficult, so any methods that we can use to do so are worth exploring.

    I just had a quick read through your social networking e-book too – you’ve done a really nice job with that!

  3. tom martin says:


    Interesting post…love the questions — great thought/idea starters. The museum analogy is interesting — not where I thought you were going with it…

    To me the analogy is more like how we perceive our careers. So often it’s about lining our walls with trophies, certificates, pictures of teams we’ve launched things with, etc.

    It’s our personal museum and for many, it is where they place their focus, effort and derive their worth. They believe who they are today is about what they’ve done in the past.

    And while that is true — and certainly important to celebrate where you’ve been and what you’ve done — success today is about leaving the museum each and every day. You have to go out those doors and build new great things.

    Only by doing that – building new and great things — will you be able to expand your museum’s collection and after all, isn’t that the real goal of a museum curator? To have a collection that is always growing and becoming more interesting for fans to browse through?


  4. Joe Ruiz says:

    Steve I recently heard that history describes us it doesn’t have to define us. I am learning to ask more questions, to be more curious.

    Thanks for the thought starter. Great points and comments. I’ll go chew on this a while!

  5. bencurnett says:

    Hi Steve. I’ll add this- I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I do want to make a better one.

    Not positive how that fits into your post, put it seems pretty congruent to my mind.

    Also, I don’t know how this fits either, and it doesn’t mean I like your metaphor any less: I LOVE museums (full disclosure. Felt like it needed to be said 🙂

  6. Ben – agreed. There are a number of things that remain relevant and valuable (though they can often be improved). Taking a round wheel and making it square just to change the status quo is…..well, sub-optimal!
    But we should always be ready to ask – can this wheel be better? Or applied in new ways?

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