Are you an idea person? Do you find yourself coming up with new business ideas, branding concepts or process improvements? Does careful project management sometimes stifle your creativity? Do people ever give you that look that implies you ought to focus on the task at hand instead of daydreaming?
If so, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you! And the good news is, you have a special and significant gift. Change is always preceded by thought. As Robin Sharma said, “Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.”
Some of us are naturally wired to generate ideas easily. But I also believe the ability to ideate is part of all of us. It’s a muscle that grows with stimulation.
If you identify as an idea person – or are looking to better steward the quality and quantity of your ideas – here are some strategies you might consider.
How do you get your big idea across in the age of information? A quick keyword search can provide anyone with much more data than they could ever hope to use. What’s the secret to getting your idea past all the clutter and into the land of reality?
It’s been well over a decade since Malcolm Gladwell published his bestseller The Tipping Point. In it, he explains that it’s not the quality of the idea itself, but the quality of three key ingredients that cause the idea to tip. If you haven’t read the book, below are the items (hint: they’re people) as well as a few strategies to employ.
Acquiring knowledge and know-how is critical to any professional – both for knowledge and manual workers. But with it brings some new disadvantages as well. The “curse of knowledge” is recognized as a “cognitive bias” that essentially means it is difficult or impossible to unremember or disregard information you possess. It seems that what you don’t know – as well as what you do know – can both hurt you.
So how can knowledge actually be a curse? Consider a few of the ways.
I don’t know what last year brought your way, but as the saying goes: all new beginnings are hopeful. I believe that’s true when it comes to leadership effectiveness as well. Wouldn’t this be a great year for some meaningful strides? If you haven’t thought much about it, I’d like to share some of my leadership themes for the new year.
How exciting is decision-making?? I’ve always enjoyed the logic that goes into navigating the personal and professional crossroads of life. Sometimes things work out. Other times it’s a disaster. Did we make the right call? How can we know for sure?
I read a book a couple years ago that took decision-making to a whole new level. It was Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath. I don’t think I’ve heard as comprehensive (or creative) a thinking process as it relates to decision-making. And the best part is that is applies to nearly all circumstances, from business (should we sue a bigger company? offer a discount on our products?) to personal (should I break up with my significant other? let my adult child move back home? buy a new TV?).
Here is a brief summary of the WRAP decision-making process the Heath brothers use:
One of the things that disappoints me the most is hearing someone tell me they don’t want to be a leader. It’s unfortunate because I believe that everyone not only has the ability to be leader but also the responsibility to make a leadership contribution in the role they are in. But in this context, they usually associate leadership with a management-type position. And what they usually mean is that the perks of leadership (pay, perception, privileges) are not worth the stress (bureaucracy, pressure, time, work, people issues).
And unfortunately, in some cases, I agree with them. I’ve seen plenty of leaders abused to the point where others take note and stay put. Usually it’s the result of some type of organizational dysfunction which may be easy to see buy difficult to change. Other times the job really is that difficult.
So as you move up in an organization, does leadership get easier or harder? I have good news and bad news. The answer is “yes.” Here’s why.
Adversity is no respecter of persons. Our experiences are usually different, but each of us gets our turn. Our organizations do too, for that matter.
So what happens when adversity strikes? How can we climb our way our of it? This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some thinking patterns that have helped me maintain a sense of sanity and clarity over the years.
Everybody wants competence. We want it for ourselves. We expect it from others in our organizations. We demand it from the people and organizations we purchase from. But how do we figure out if we’ve got it? How well do we develop it in others? Where do we even start?
Back in the 1970s, Gordon Training International developed a learning model called “The Four Stages of Competence,” which has also been linked to Abraham Maslow’s work. There’s something helpful about breaking an idea or a challenge down into smaller parts, and competence is no different. If we can understand which stage both we and our followers are in, we’ll be much more useful. Here are the Four Stages of Competence:
You may remember the Mastercard commercials that ran on television several years ago. Each one depicted a family having a wonderful (and expensive) excursion together. The punchline informed us, “there are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mastercard.” The subliminal message may have been that if you spend enough money, you can buy a priceless experience. Regardless, I thought the ads were brilliant. (Who doesn’t want a priceless experience with people they care about?) But they really begged the bigger question: what exactly are the things that money can’t buy?