The Voice of the Innovator–Risk Taking and Innovation: Being Authentic

Risk-taking and Authenticity

Well, you asked for my opinion. It’s better to be honest.”

Risk-taking and authenticity means being true to yourself, knowing that what you believe and think is not compromised by what others believe and think. But as you can imagine, people who will not compromise their ‘authenticity’ can be SO right, they can be wrong, hurtful and disdainful of the way others see things.  They can come across as arrogant and can actually end up having little or no impact. So, it’s important to understand in most risk-taking situations how much risk you are willing to take with your ‘authenticity.’  Who would you consider authentic and true to their ideas? Gandhi?,  Sandra Day O’Connor?,  George W. Bush?,  Oprah? 

Compromising your authenticity can be damaging to you.  If you aren’t authentic, people may consider you untrustworthy. 

We are lucky to have a couple of key thought leaders in the dialogue around authenticity: Kevin Cashman, CEO of LeaderSource (now part of Korn-Ferry), and Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and on the faculty at Harvard University.  Both of them view the discussion of authenticity as being comfortable with who you are and ‘how you show up’ in the world.  They specifically are addressing themselves to leaders, but in fact much of what they say applies to all of us. 

Bill George (author of True North) talks about authenticity as knowing who you really are and being able to inspire others around you toward a common sense of purpose.  

Kevin Cashman challenges us to think about leadership and authenticity in terms of how we go about expressing ourselves more authentically.  As he says, “ I constantly challenge clients to ask, Where is my leadership coming from?  Do our actions originate from deep within ourselves, or are they coming from a more superficial, limited place?” 

To take a risk requires us to being courageous! 

You can help re-ignite your authenticity by practicing the following three actions: 

  • Saying, “I disagree.”
  • Readily giving feedback.
  • Saying it how you see it, and then living with others’ reactions.

 

Ambiguity and Creativity–Re-igniting the Voice of Your Innovator!

Creativity and Ambiguity

“Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Let’s just do the best we can with the information we have.”

Imagine, for a moment, a blank piece of paper. It is much like that computer screen that appears in front of you every day challenges you to put something on it. It may be a report, a summary, a graph or chart, a poem or a picture—in other words, it could be anything. But you are faced with nothing on the screen—blankness=ambiguity. The opportunity, at the moment, is to see it as just that: an opportunity. And to ask yourself the question, what are the possibilities? So often, ambiguity creates anxiety and fear. But it’s from that release into the unknown that something spectacular can happen.

Often, in this situation, we try to decrease the ambiguity. We think about what else we’ve done before, what we’ve seen others do. What we could borrow from the previous report that we put together, or that a colleague put together, or from a best practice used by others in the industry. We try to narrow down the sense of ambiguity and create predictability or a known solution. Each of us, of course, handles this in different ways.

How comfortable are YOU, when that blank screen appears, with creating something out of nothing? Ask yourself, do I need greater predictability or structure, or can I be open to the ambiguity (the gray) that might create new possibilities?

When we run into people or situations that challenge us or ideas that we don’t immediately grasp, people we “can’t” understand, and other concepts foreign, inconceivable or counterintuitive to our accepted “norms,” we have a choice: 1) accept the ambiguity and see what comes of it, or 2) close down on it—what’s your choice?

How do you strengthen and re-ignite ambiguity in yourself and others? Here are a few ideas: Start:

  • Working with the information you have, rather than always needing and asking for more data.
  • Holding meetings without an agenda to create new ideas.
  • Asking, “How might this work?” rather than, “Here are the problems.”

The next blog–Independence and Creativity!

Seven Drivers for Re-igniting Innovation in Ourselves

As adults, we have to go deeper into what made us tick as a child in order to come out the other side as creative and courageous as we once were.  What made it possible to play or imagine?  Each of the children described previously shows that creativity takes place when there is ambiguity, or as someone recently said to me, “when there is a lot of gray.”  “Creativity is often one person thinking differently that turns conventional wisdom on its head.” (Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corporation).  It can be birthed in teams,  but usually it is one person thinking independently that gets things going.  Children are very inner-directed and to be creative you need to ‘hear your own drummer.’ They also appreciate uniqueness in others—little children don’t discriminate in terms of who has the higher I.Q. or judge people by the color of their skin until later in their lives. They are accepting of differences and the differences make their play more interesting.

What makes young children take more risks in their play is that they are authentic, they are true to themselves; they don’t evaluate the ‘political’ landscape.  They are resilient –if something doesn’t work out, they are on to the next thing, and they don’t beat themselves up if something doesn’t go their way.  Children are much more self-accepting.  But we, as adults, teach them that there are mistakes and a right way and wrong way of doing something.

 

The Seven Drivers of Creativity & Risk Taking

           

Creativity Drivers                 DEFINITION  The So What…?
Ambiguity: Able to operate with uncertainty and   vagueness—don’t require high structure, goals or objectives to accomplish or   create One   of our biggest blocks to accepting greater ambiguity is the search for clear   answers, isn’t it?  Creativity requires   more comfort with ambiguous situations.      
Independence: Not subject to the control or   influence or determination of another or others—will not subordinate   themselves—don’t like to be managed by others Creative   people are independent in their judgment –they resist conforming to group   opinion, if it is different from their own.      
    Inner-Directedness: Determine their own expectations and   norms—‘march to the beat of their own drummer’ Creative   people are attracted to change and new ideas and ways of doing things—not the   tried and true.
Uniqueness: Appreciate and value   differences—value uniqueness in both self and others We all struggle to be   accepted and to be valued for our uniqueness. At times these are at odds with   one another.  Valuing uniqueness says   that we value diversity of thought.  

 

 

Risk-Taking Drivers           DEFINITION        THE SO WHAT…….
Authenticity: Being what you purport to be:  genuine—“walk your talk”—“tell it like it   is”  Often we try on different personalities   until we realize it is a joy to be authentic and true to ourselves.  Only by being true to ourselves do we say   and do what we believe. 

 

Resiliency: The capacity to spring back, rebound   and to successfully adapt and learn even in the face of adversity and stress The connection between resiliency   and risk taking is central –individuals who take risks that others   wouldn’t   believe that they’ll  land on their feet.  

 

Self-Acceptance: Approving and/or satisfied with your   behaviors or actions Understanding what your   response will be if you ‘fail’ or make a ‘mistake’ and disappoint either   yourself or others is critical to moving on and taking that next risk.    

Using this framework, we can start to think of these as the keys to tap into our own inner child.  Each of the seven Drivers contributes to your future, no matter whether you are trying to create new ideas, face your own fears, contribute more to the success of the company you work for, start a business, or just feel more comfortable with the ideas you offer and the risks that you take every day in your life.  So, in the next blog, we will discover how to re-ignite your ability to be more creative and take more risks in your life.

Voice of the Innovator

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Every innovator I’ve known or observed has had to deal with enormous challenges and, yet, they just keep moving forward—nothing seems to get in their way. What can we learn from them? There is something important here. Many of them are successful in spite of others and, in many cases, in spite of themselves. Those who we might not consider successful innovators consider themselves successful —it’s the rest of the world who is “not seeing clearly.” And, in many cases, you know, they are right.

Completing this work completes a journey for me into understanding what innovators have to teach us about ourselves. So my acknowledgement is simple—“here’s to the innovators” who jump the curbs of life, who stand-up for their ideas, who stay curious about the world, who are cynics and optimists at the same time, who never give up. We can all learn from them. I…

View original post 32 more words

Once upon a time we were all innovators

PART ONE: ONCE UPON A TIME, WE WERE ALL INNOVATORS

Once upon a time, we were all innovators. We came up with new ideas every day. We created worlds of make-believe, with imaginary friends and stories that could take us to new places. But along the way, something happened to that little innovator—that child in all of us. To find it again requires that we re-ignite that inner child. What do you think, doesn’t this picture say it all?

Source: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Embrace-Your-Inner-Child-Sandra-Magsamen

Let’s begin with a story—a story that should resonate with each and every one of us.

It was a Monday morning, and a little fifth-grader named Alex had worked very hard over the weekend on her Solar System project. She was so excited to share it with her class. Off she went that morning, songs swirling around in her head about Venus, Pluto and Jupiter, songs she had written herself for each planet. This was such a fun project, she thought, and she was so excited about sharing it. She wasn’t the first to present, she was fourth. The projects presented before hers were PowerPoint presentations, and it was clear parents had helped her classmates put together these very factual reports on the Solar System. But Alex was proud of her unique approach, and her parents hadn’t helped her.

When the teacher called her to the front of the room, she went proudly, wearing a colorful costume of silk scarves (she had seen Martha Graham, the inventor of Modern Dance, do that), so that when she moved the scarves moved with her, a visual depiction of movement in the universe. Alex twirled around the room, singing about Mercury, the ‘Morning Star,’ and then Venus, ‘Earth’s Sister,’ and then on to Mars, the ‘Red Planet.’ She had put a lot of work into each song, and she was very proud of her work.

But as Alex twirled and sang, she noticed a great many giggles and whispers throughout the class. At one point the teacher stopped her and asked everyone to be quiet while she finished. But Alex didn’t want to finish anymore, and her presentation became quieter, duller, uninteresting to the class and even to herself. When she was done, she crept back to her seat and remained quiet for the rest of the day. In fact, she remained quiet for a very, very long time after that.
We all have a story like that, don’t we? The question is, what does a story like that do to our future? It causes us to lose that creative and imaginative flame that burns so brightly when we are children.

Think back to when you were a child. When you were a child, didn’t anything seem possible? Wasn’t everything amazing?

Didn’t ideas flow, didn’t everyone get excited about new things to do and new ways of doing them? One friend would say, “And then we could do this,”and then another friend would say, “And then would could do that,”—always building on each other’s thoughts.
Weren’t you thrilled to get up in the morning as a kid? And didn’t you want to stay up at night, afraid to go to bed because you might miss something—especially in the summer?

What happened to that child? What happens to so many of us during life’s journey?
Well, guess what? That child is still there—he or she just got lost for a while, that’s all!
So, how can you get that child’s innovative spirit back?
You start by believing in YOU, again. You start by believing that you ARE creative and that your innovative spirit can be ignited once more. You look for role models and mentors who believe in you. You begin to take risks with your creative ideas again. That’s what innovation is—Creativity (imagining new ideas) and Risk taking (having the courage to share that idea—even when it is really hard).

JB

The Voice of the Innovator

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Every innovator I’ve known or observed has had to deal with enormous challenges and, yet, they just keep moving forward—nothing seems to get in their way. What can we learn from them? There is something important here. Many of them are successful in spite of others and, in many cases, in spite of themselves. Those who we might not consider successful innovators consider themselves successful —it’s the rest of the world who is “not seeing clearly.” And, in many cases, you know, they are right.

Completing this work completes a journey for me into understanding what innovators have to teach us about ourselves. So my acknowledgement is simple—“here’s to the innovators” who jump the curbs of life, who stand-up for their ideas, who stay curious about the world, who are cynics and optimists at the same time, who never give up. We can all learn from them. I hope that everyone who reads this book can takeaway something that will make their lives more fulfilled; more creative, willing to take the risks to make it happen and become more innovative!