Great Escape Podcast episode 20 - A Little Escape on getting outside your comfort zone


As you know, one of the things that I do, amongst the many, is I take funerals for people who don't want a church ceremony. And I've had the opportunity, in the last few days, to explore the funeral industry in Melbourne, particularly, in Australia. And it's been a really interesting experience to meet other celebrants and people involved in the industry, to see their perspective on the way a funeral should be taken or prepared, and how the interaction with the family is interestingly different to the way that we do it, and the way we teach in the UK. And that got me thinking, once again, of something that I mentioned in last week's Little Escape, the way our brains get entrained in particular ways of doing things. And I think it's really important that sometimes we step outside our own experience of how something should be done, or our own tradition, if you like, and go and experience the way other people do it. Sometimes, the way other people do things may be really uncomfortable for us, really difficult for us to cope with. And an interesting example there is, here in Australia, it seems that from the phone call to the celebrant, to the delivery of the funeral, can be three or four days. So the meeting with the family, and the writing of the funeral, and all the preparation, is done in a very short period of time, whereas in the UK, generally, it's more than a week, anything up to two weeks, in busy times of year, or anything up to a month. And so that's a very interesting difference in the way that celebrants here in Australia have to run their business, compared to those of us working in the United Kingdom. It's not wrong, it's just different. And it's got me thinking about ways that, actually, I could use some of the techniques that the Australian celebrants are using to keep on top of that quick turnaround, to make my business in the UK more efficient, less time-consuming, and without changing the quality of what I'm offering to the grieving family. In fact, in some ways, some things I've learned in the last few days will mean that my service to those families is better, when I go home. And so it's necessary, I think, for us to stretch ourselves, to go and experience different ways of doing things, to get out of that internet, YouTube, or Facebook bubble, where everything we read is kind of the echo chamber of reinforcement of the way that we already think about something, and go and explore other ways of doing things that we're familiar with. It helps our brain to see other ways to improve how we do it, and actually, to give us a better understanding of how the world works. In lots of ways, we learn to think the way the community we grew up in thinks. So if we had parents with a particularly strong view about something, then we are likely to share that view. Of course, there's always the time when, as a teenager or adolescent, you chose the opposite view, just because you were being contrary. But generally, I know this is a big generalization, if you grew up in a Christian family, you are likely to be a Christian. If you grew up in a Muslim family, you are likely to be a Muslim. And that context, that way of thinking about the world, that way of viewing the world, is gonna be the only frame of reference that we have. And for that reason, I think it's really, really important that we travel, that we go and meet people who we might, normally, maybe disagree with, sometimes strongly disagree with. But at least have an honest discussion with them about whatever it is that we're disagreeing, to try and understand how it is they've come to a different view to our own. And certainly, in a business context, going and exploring the way a business runs in a different country, or even a different town, can actually teach us a huge amount about the way we could improve our business. And actually, something that I've used in the past is not just looking at similar businesses to my own, but looking at radically different businesses to my own. And a good case in point there would be the newspaper industry. We, the people who buy the newspapers, or who used to buy the newspapers, are not the customers. Actually, we're the product. The customer of a newspaper is the advertiser, the person paying for the advertising. This is why so many newspapers these days are almost free. Because the person paying for the preparation, the printing, and all the rest of it, is the advertiser, and what the newspaper is selling to them are our eyeballs looking at the page, looking at the advert. Flip that into if we think about things like Myspace, internet, online communities that have failed over the years, the thing that Facebook got right there was understanding that the customer was not the person using the product, the customer was the advertiser. The person using the product is the product. We are being sold, our data is being sold to the advertisers. So the genius, if you like, of what Facebook achieved was to look at the newspaper industry business model and apply it to an internet-based business model, in a way that things like Myspace had failed to do. The getting outside the usual way we do things, the usual way we see things, the familiarity of life, allows us to innovate, allows us to come up with new ways of doing things when we go back into our bubble. And for that reason, I really encourage you to seek out ways of experiencing life from other points of view. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Great Escape Podcast. You can find other episodes at all the usual places, on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, or at the website And if you'd like to contact me to talk about any element of this episode, or others I've covered, please go to, and you can find all the ways of getting hold of me there. And if you're stuck in a situation, and you can't find the way out, please go there, send me a message, and let's see how we can work together to get you unstuck, and moving forward with your life again. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family, other people you think might appreciate it, and comment on episodes or send me a message. I'd love to keep the conversation going.

The Great Escape titles music was created by Darren Reddick

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