By Ted Mancuso -
You want to unlock your power of innovation. Whether your think of yourself as a creative genius or a bump on a log, that all-important human ability to think of something new, to produce what no one has yet produced, to see things with “new eyes” is one of the most rewarding of human experiences.
Innovation, thinking things up that are new, has made millions and millions of dollars, earned great honors and saved countries with its power. But like a beautiful and powerful horse you have to learn how to ride it and to act harmoniously with the power. And the first step is to become friends with it.
Step One: See New. Over and over again people say that some of their best ideas come from seeing what everyone else sees but doesn’t really notice. Anything can be looked at with new eyes. If you are having trouble with this try this exercise even if it seems silly. Take a handful of index cards or pieces of paper. Write the word EXHIBIT nice and big on each of these. Walk through your office or house and, as randomly as possible, place the cards in front of different items in the house. Then go through the house and look at the EXHIBIT as though your were a visiting tourist. Forget that you know what you are looking at. Imagine you are visiting the memorial home of some famous inventor or innovator. And, most important, see everything like it is for the first time!
Step Two: Retire Your Wastepaper Basket. To make breakthroughs your have to make mistakes. But people become very ashamed when a new idea is a little weird or challenging. So into the trash as soon as possible. Wrong! You don’t have to love your mistakes but you don’t have to hate them either. And sometimes they turn around on you and become valuable at one level or another. Instead of rejecting your half-baked ideas have a special file. You can even call it a funny name like “Whoa!” and put in every idea you feel like rejecting (as of this week). That’s it, you never have to look in there again. But we bet you will, sooner than your think. Be guided by the great art teacher Nicolaides who used to tell his students, “You have to make 5000 mistakes to learn to draw. Better get at them.”
Step Three: Use indirect thinking. The shortest distance between two points is NOT always a straight line. For instance, if you are a fly on a globe the shortest distance to another part of the globe is an arc. You have set yourself a problem, let’s pretend. You think and think and keep coming up with ideas that don’t solve this particular problem. But what you are ignoring is that they solve all sorts of OTHER problems. In fact, every idea you come up with is some type of solution. The truth is, the human mind doesn’t like to think in straight lines. Not only that but fixating on a problem can sometimes be the worst possible way to solve it. Have a special notebook for solutions that arrive a little ahead of schedule. When this crisis is over you may find that these unasked for solutions are multiples better than what you were looking for. Sometimes we are staring at the mountains and stumbling over the buried treasure. There are solutions waiting to be found, be the one to discover them.
Innovation comes from seeing and thinking about things in a new way. Once you start refining this ability you will find that it comes in handy in every phase of life. Now go enjoy the exhibit; after all the price is right.
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