When visiting Westlake Village in California, a sign on a door caused me to do a double take. All my life, I had seen notices on doors leading out of buildings labelled as “Exit”, or as we say in Quebec, “Sortie”. But now before me on a door was bright red sign proclaiming boldly, “Not An Entrance”.

The purpose behind the words “Exit” or “Exit Only” vs. “Not An Entrance” posted on a door is the same, but the routes to understanding what is intended work differently in our mind. One approach expresses what is permitted, the other expresses what is forbidden.

The kinds of words we choose to use when dealing with a difficult situation may end up shaping how we resolve it, or fail to do so. Our language may also affect the angles at which we perceive options, or worse, not even notice they are there. Perhaps this statement by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein put it best: “The limits of our language mean the limits of our world.”

When looking to break through a problem, to change it into an opportunity, try using different words and concepts, different approaches to what you are used to, and see what happens. You might be surprised at the results that you achieve.

We enjoy working with our clients to find new approaches to obstacles they may face, to turn barriers into doors that swing open wide. If you feel stuck and would like to try some innovative thinking, we invite you to contact us here.