When I’m ordering coffee and am asked what kind I want, I’ll often just say “surprise me.” Almost without exception, what I’m surprised with is better than what I would have ordered myself.
It’s a great metaphor for life and for work. If you are not just open to surprise but actively invite it, you will be astonished, amazed, and astounded at what people are capable of.
Give it a try. When you’re speaking with a coworker, a customer or patient, or a family member, ask them to surprise you. Then be open to what happens next.
One caution: if you ask someone to surprise you, it’s essential that you suspend judgment when they do. If you criticize someone for giving you the wrong surprise it’s unlikely that they’ll keep trying until they stumble upon a surprise you like.