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How to Have a Bold Innovative Year

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 @ 11:22 AM

funny motivational speakerWhy is innovation so challenging? Why are our attempts at improvement in the New Year so difficult?

According to science, our brains are naturally a bit lazy; they conserve energy at all costs. There are very good physiological reasons for this. Our prehistoric ancestors needed all the energy they could muster to run from a predator and live to tell the tale.
Their brains were taxed with finding the most efficient way to survive. But this tendency toward the easiest path runs in direct opposition to bold, innovative thinking.

The Sunny Side of Habits
The habits we form simplify our daily lives.  We need our habits to move through our days with ease, because when we do something over and over again, it becomes second nature, conserves our energy, and makes us more efficient.

The Dark Side of Habits
On the flip side, many people move from expediency to captivity, captive to what they know at the expense of learning something new. In fact, some become so rigid and inflexible they are profoundly uncomfortable with anything that challenges their assumptions. This rigidity leaves us unable to function outside of our routines and sets us up for failure. Organizations like BlockBuster Video or Kodak are prime examples of this danger. The well-formed idea that supports success can also make us resistant to
change . . . and ultimately lead to our demise.

Finding the Balance
There is hope. It requires that we stretch ourselves and do things out of the ordinary, activities that might make us uncomfortable at first. Science has shown that every time we learn something new – or even consider a new perspective – we build new connections in the brain. Those new connections allow new possibilities, like newly built roadways into unexplored areas, subdivisions, and parks.
In 2017 we can build new neural networks and enhance our brain plasticity by spending more time doing new, unfamiliar things. Try some of these suggestions:

Spend time with people outside our immediate circle of friends. Although they say opposites attract, most people build a social network composed of people much like themselves because we are naturally drawn to familiarity.
We can usually find a pattern of similar goals, values, maybe even hairstyles, reading the same kinds of books, watching the same TV shows and going to the same pubs or restaurants. Unless we expand this circle, we will get more of the same. Creating genuine relationships with others can take time, so we need to make it a resolution to listen to podcasts and seek out new information and perspectives as we go.

Use your body’s chemistry to your advantage.
We need to boost our endorphins at every opportunity. Professor Baba Shiv explained in Stanford Business, Research shows that the best way to maximize creativity is to maintain high levels of both serotonin and dopamine, which will keep a person calm but energized.
Alternately, cortisol is released when we are stressed out, which creates a fear-inducing response causes us to shy away from anything new. We must be in the proper mindset to be creative. Minimize stress; use deep breathing, avoid aggravating neighbors, ignore Facebook, go to that happy place - do whatever we need to do. Our focus needs to be
on those endorphins. Laugh, sit in the sun, exercise or play to boost endorphins to get the creative ideas flowing.

Fail quickly.
Not all ideas are good ideas. To allow innovation, we have to be open to
new solutions; we have to be willing to slide out a bit on the branch. However, if it becomes apparent after exploration that an endeavor is just not a good fit, surrender that idea. Use it for a building block; know that it’s one avenue that you tried and decided against. Quit while you're still ahead and move onto the next bold idea.

Analyze what works. When ideas are flowing or solutions are successful, identify the ingredients that built the success. For instance, some people are night owls and get their best ideas in the early hours. Some innovative solutions come from slightly altering a product or service. Some successes come from solving specific customer problems.
What made it happen for you?

Carve out time to be creative. Exercising our creative muscles takes time and energy. Very rarely does innovation happen by accident. We must build in time and create a space that helps eliminate distractions and gets our endorphins flowing. We all have the ability to release our creativity and create changes in our lives.
Who will you become in 2017?
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