When does what we invent (our ideas) reinvent us, and thus reengineer the very way we think? When does a thought lead us to new ways of doing, working and creating?
These questions came to mind recently when I was discussing my latest blog on “reinvention as the new reincarnation” with my manager. Conversations, I find, often start in one direction and then lead into new theories I never thought of before. Just by stopping to think, analyze and discuss our thoughts with others, we can rethink and redraw the stories in our minds. We can link different ideas in new ways, forming new cogs in the engine of our brain.
This process of discussing thoughts, ideas and philosophies make us more thoughtful and receptive to outside ideas. Which leads me to wonder — what makes a thought leader, what sparks some people to be on the cutting-edge, to be more creative in their work and industries?
Many people have asked me where my energy comes from to create blog posts and be innovative in my day-to-day work. Here are some ways I light the spark to get ideas flowing, invigorate myself to think positively and reach for the next big thing:
- Walk on your own or with others. Use this time to reason, analyse the thoughts in your head. “Why are you thinking this way? Is this the correct perspective?”
- Talk to others in your group, to those who inspire you and those you want to learn more from.
- Share. Sharing creates and promotes trust with others. The more we trust, the more we can grow as individuals and as teams.
- Be helpful. The more helpful we are to others, the more giving we are. We open up to others perspectives, which are not necessarily the same viewpoints as our own. Helping even when we don’t really want to help can often break down barriers and build new relationships.
- Read the latest articles, books and posts that interest you. Read more about what you would like to know, read more about what you don’t know, then share with others who may be interested, both within and outside your group.
- Learn. Every interaction we have with others is an opportunity to learn. Every interaction has an opportunity associated with it to develop and to take the time to listen to those and the world around us, to develop the way in which we work. No matter who you interact with, you have the opportunity to learn from them. Go into every conversation with the perspective, “What am I going to learn from you today?” This puts a new, positive perspective on every interaction.
- Draw. Sometimes getting an idea out of our heads can be hard. Drawing can help show others what you are thinking. Just the process of getting the idea out of your head can also then give you an outside-in perspective to the idea, and before you know it, an additional layer or follow-on idea can be added.
- Listen. Active listening is something that has taken me many years to learn. And I still struggle now to stop and listen. I’ve need to learn how to control and silence the thoughts inside my head so that I am able to listen fully. The ability to truly listen, I believe comes with time and with wanting to stop and engage others. If you do not want to listen, then you will not learn.
- Hold thoughts. Thoughts can be dangerous if used at the wrong moment. They can be used to harm and create malice. They can also be true only to you — and not necessarily still true 5 seconds from now. Holding our thoughts until we believe they are useful to others, and choosing to use them only for good, is an extremely useful skill.
- Be in the moment. Sometimes focusing our thoughts on the here and now can be extremely productive, both in our personal lives and at work. It can especially help to focus your attention on your life and family when you’re in that moment, and keeping your bid or opportunity out of your head until you return to the workplace. When you love your work, this can be hard to do.
- Ask why. Don’t be afraid to ask, “why am I thinking that?” “What is driving my thought process right now?” By understanding our own thoughts, you can manage ideas and ensure they are used in the most productive and prosperous manner
- Watch. Watching and observing the way others present and discuss ideas helps encourage our own. Often, it is the people around us who inspire and plant thoughts or seeds to inspire us to do the next big thing.
- Join the obscure dots. Connect the dots in ways others haven’t seen yet. Color outside the lines. Rewind and replay the animation in your head upside down to make you think differently.
- Sketch your view of the future. What does it look like to you? What does it look like for others? What about future generations? Then fast-forward it by another 20 years and what does it now look like to you?
We know that innovation is an important trait in today’s workplace. Ultimately we can reinvent ourselves, our work and our world through creative thinking that leads to creative doing. As Albert Einstein once said, ”To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”
I hope you find ways to spark your own creativity and bring new innovation to the workplace and world!