This month’s theme of Nourish Your Mind was designed so we could spend the month focusing on “getting back to school” and begin growing and learning again. One of the key reasons we want to continue to nourish our minds is because our innovative and creative abilities expand when we give our mind something new – to think on, to dream about, or ideas to explore.
The Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence® defines the competency of Innovation & Creativity as “being open to and actively pursuing novel ideas and new approaches."
There are 3 key reasons we’ve identified that you should strive for more Innovation & Creativity:
1) Handling Challenges & Change
How frequently do you face new challenges in your work, career, or life? We all face consistent change and there will forever be challenges. Most things don’t go perfectly even with well-intended and well-planned actions. The ability to pivot, as we’ve experienced personally or have seen so much of in the last few years, comes as the result of individuals being able to see possibilities and seek out alternative solutions.
Covid-19 required a surge of Innovation & Creativity to survive. It’s time to get back to (if you haven’t yet) revving up your own innovation & creativity to thrive in times of challenge or change.
The authors of The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, identify “Exercising Outsight” as a key element in the ability for leaders to Challenge the Process. They write that, “Studies into how the brain processes information suggest that to see things differently and hence creatively, you need to bombard your brain with stuff it has never encountered."
Thus, “Exercising Outsight” is seeking that “stuff” outside of your normal environment. This can be just speaking with others, but can also be in any format in which you can find new ideas. Consider what you might listen to or read or experience that can bring new ideas or thoughts.
Focusing on seeking out fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources can help drive your Innovation & Creativity. When we surround ourselves with the new, we are naturally inspired and able to see the possibilities or solutions to any change or challenge that comes our way.
2) Finding Your Flow
One of the “fathers” of Positive Psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, has provided us with the theory of Flow. Have you ever experienced being “in the zone?" If you have, you’ve experienced Flow.
When you’re in a state of Flow, you’re completely focused and have complete clarity. Being in Flow is intrinsically rewarding and there is a clear balance between any challenges and your skills. If you’re interested in learning more about Flow, check out Csikszentmihalyi’s Ted Talk.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)
By revving up your efforts to become innovative and creative, you can more easily accomplish a state of Flow. Not only will this allow you to be more productive, but your reward is intrinsic, and it will increase your level of happiness.
While Flow rewards you intrinsically, there’s also an extrinsic reason to strive for more innovation and creativity now - our third reason.
3) Making the 4th Quarter Count
As we wrap up the last couple of weeks of the 3rd quarter, most of us are focused on how we make the 4th quarter count.
For more than 20 years in financial services, I experienced that both consumers and businesses open their wallets more or tend to make more financial decisions in the 4th quarter. Businesses are planning their next year’s budgets, which reminds them what they have in this year’s budget that might be “use or lose”.
In addition, benefit open enrollment occurs that gets everyone making some financial decisions. Financial institutions typically run some type of financing special, and we have the abundance of holidays that encourage spending.
What does that mean to the entrepreneur or the small business owner? It means that there’s a huge opportunity to improve your bottom line in the 4th quarter. Kabbage reports that, “One-Third of U.S. Small Businesses Report Q4 is the Most Profitable Time of the Year." Restaurants and retailers see much of the bottom-line reward. However, there is an opportunity for all to see the 4th quarter reward in your bottom-line.
From identifying the possibilities, to putting a marketing or advertising plan in place, it requires a boost of innovation and creativity to seize your bottom-line reward.
Start Small, Dream BIG!
Creativity can begin with some small steps. Personally, I need a clean slate to be more creative as my brain does not focus in a cluttered space. If I’m working on a project or presentation, I need a clean desk, blank paper or electronic "blank sheet" to bullet my ideas.
Sometimes a walk or even a shower can provide the blank space. I’ve recently discovered Aqua Notes, a waterproof notepad for the shower that won’t let any creativity “go down the drain." Striving for more creativity will help you naturally get closer to achieving a state of Flow where your innovative powers will have no bounds.
You should also consider slowing down, taking a day or more to recover and reset on a regular basis. Our creativity is stifled when we're exhausted or run down. I’ve recently heard the phrase “brain break” from a colleague. That is what we really need to be able to allow our creative side to flourish.
I personally strive to have one day free of computer screens each week. I’ve noticed that the mini-vacation I give myself typically generates new thoughts that I, of course, capture on my Aqua Notes!
Tell us what you're doing to be more innovative and creative in the last few months of the year and why! Leave a comment below and we encourage you to become a site member so that you can get notified each week when we post a new blog.