Success is a constant horizon. For most of us, each peak reached only gives us a better view of our next challenge. When we’re on a journey, often we hit road blocks or unexpected difficulties. Our basic equipment and our linear mentalities may not be enough to get around. However, if we tie that 50 foot cord of rope to that ice pick and weigh it down with the…
Nearly every problem we face in our life – and even things we think we have a solution to – could use a bit of innovative thinking. The problem isn’t finding places to implement innovation, it’s finding the inspiration for that innovation. We’re stuck in seeing the systems we’ve been taught, the uses for tools that they were designed to perform. We see our own limitations, our own failures. Here are some places to find inspiration to innovate.
The non-expert is a powerful tool in the modern day. With an American Congress that has single digit approval, an overarching business structure that has thrown most of the world into a recession, people look to new thinkers to shed new light on old problems.
Children: Many people scoff at the notion of a child having insight into “adult problems.” You can almost here the proverbial father saying “let the adults talk, sweety.” However, we forget a few basic things. Children are in their most influential developmental periods. In fact, before the age of 10 it’s shown that children and adults have one massive difference: Children think in terms of possibilities whereas adults think in terms of limitations. Share your problems in a communicable way with your children and you may soon learn Naivety and innocence may be simple preludes to innovation. A child’s creativity is a powerful thing.
For more on that, check out this TED lecture by Adora Svitak, child prodigy.
Other Disciplines: You’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking for some advice on a recent business proposal. Call another entrepreneur? Sure. But if you want some seriously interesting, insightful advice call up that friend from college who studied philosophy. Ask an artist or explain your situation to a doctor. Lateral experience – transferable but unrelated in the field – will give you some serious thinking power to draw from. The fact that these are well educated and/or creative individuals who are not limited by your experience in your field – they don’t see the restrictions the way you do – will give you interesting ideas about how to solve your dilemma.
When we’re presented with our weaknesses, we might throw up our hands in defeat. It’s sometimes difficult to see a purpose in our darkest hour, or a way around a tough situation. See your weaknesses as a clearer lens to see a problem through.
Finding ways around: A big boulder in your way? Find a path to walk around it. Clever solutions often clearly avoid the problem. If you can avoid the difficult terrain, it is no longer a problem at all. What’s important in this methodology is that you are creating a non-problem. You no longer need to engage something you aren’t skilled in.
Finding ways through and to improve: When the first train tracks were laid across the United States of America, the workers would run into a rather interesting problem. That problem was Mountains. You may have heard of mountains. They are this massive slabs of rocks that are incredibly difficult to build on. However, they also run hundreds and thousands of miles long. It would be incredibly expensive to build around a mountain and hugely time consuming. So what did we do? We went through. (We’ll leave the ecological side of this discussion for another day). Humans aren’t natural burrowers, so we developed ways to burrow. By adapting and excelling, not only did we achieve the goal of a trans-national railroad, but also a number of influential construction strategies were developed.
When you’ve hit rock bottom, you will have an absolutely crystal clear vision of your faults, your failures and the places where innovation is more sorely needed. The difficult thing that we find at the bottom is not find what needs change, but finding the will to change.