Does Your Life Pass the Creativity & Innovation Quiz?

Photo credit: Ben Boyd www.zonkbonk.com

Photo credit: Ben Boyd www.zonkbonk.com

Leaders often ask, Who motivates the motivator? Today we’re asking, Who or what innovates the innovator? Does your life pass the five-question creativity & innovation quiz?

In business we tend to talk a lot about creative and innovative cultures, focusing on physical environments, the need for collaboration and embracing risk taking & failure. But what about the people behind the aesthetics, the teamwork, the disappointments and wins? What ignites and sustains their better thinking and problem solving? And most importantly.…who or what is igniting yours?!

Take the quiz…

5 Questions: answer yes or no. Yep, it’s that simple…just not simplistic.

1. Do you dialogue with people outside your industry about the trends & shifts occurring inside their industry?
2. Does your brain get enough downtime?
3. Do you source information outside of your domain expertise?
4. Do you integrate and apply new information into your existing knowledge and behaviors?
5. Do you transform setbacks, negativity or pain into fuel for following your passions?

The thoughts and behaviors behind the five questions:

1. Do you dialogue with people outside your industry about the trends & shifts occurring inside their industry?

Capitalizing on shifts is integral to innovation. Duh! But too often we miss these shifts because we live inside our industry bubble. We attend our industry conferences, listen to our industry thought leaders and think we’re being bold when we read an article about Tim Cook or Elon Musk and quote them later at an industry networking event.

Better behavior? Once a month, treat somebody outside of your industry to coffee or drinks and ask them, What hurdles did you successfully leap over in the last six to nine months? What contributed to your success? What’s shifting in your industry right now? What are your company’s or your department’s biggest challenges right now? What are your current thoughts about knocking down these barriers? Who are you listening to? What you are sourcing/reading/consuming right now? By the way, what’s your favorite app these days?

2. Does your brain get enough downtime?
You cannot solve your bigger challenges running 90mph from meeting to inbox to phone, back to boring data-dump meeting. Your brain requires theta time for associational thinking. You run around saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Okay, but if you took a break right now, you might not be dead quite so soon, and the quality of your contribution while you’re alive will increase. Your brain needs downtime to integrate new information with prior knowledge in order to better see patterns, form contextual relationships and connect seemingly unrelated elements into new, viable solutions.

Better behavior?

Daydream, play, observe, ruminate, question. It’s known as the “incubation” phase in creative problem-solving. Just took someone for coffee? First, go back to work, do what you need to do to catch up and reduce your self-induced stress of “I can’t believe I just stopped looking at my phone for thirty minutes while I met an intelligent person for coffee,” and then schedule twenty minutes later today to process what you heard. Ask yourself, What did I learn from this other industry expert? What might apply to my challenges, my goals, my team? Then, schedule a theta day. Yes, a whole day. One day “off” once a month gives your brain the gift of disengagement. Turning the brain “off” increases productivity and creativity. If you need to start slowly, your day “off” can be on a weekend, but household chores do not count as “off.” You need to get away from your routines and ruts. Away!

3. Do you source information outside of your domain expertise?
It’s important to be at the leading edge of what you do and how you serve. Yes, keep investing in your expertise, AND simultaneously expand your thinking and perspective by educating yourself in other subject areas. Habitually reading from the same sections of the newspaper, the same magazines, the same online resources, the same subject books truncates creativity and innovation. It also can lead to boredom…for you and those who have to listen to you.

Better behavior?
Schedule twenty minutes once a week to educate yourself about the world beyond your own. Watching ten minutes on how pit crews work at NASCAR, how a movie was made, why a museum chose a particular exhibit or even why kittens are so popular on Youtube expands your brain’s capacity to solve problems and “play” with opportunities differently. Unless of course you work for NASCAR, are a lifetime museum patron or just uploaded Fuzzy’s latest antics for all to enjoy. If that is the case, then eight of your twenty-minutes is to watch these two short videos:

4. Do you integrate and apply new information into your existing knowledge and behaviors?
One idiom that gets a lot of airtime is Knowledge = Power. What a misnomer. Knowledge, if not acted upon, does nothing. My favorite tweaks to the formula are Knowledge + Action = Wisdom. And this wisdom leads to power as it so chooses. You might meet with other industry experts, you might read and source all kinds of fascinating information, BUT, if all you do is say, “Cool!” and go right back to your ruts and routines then it’s a waste of your energy.

Better behavior?
Ask yourself, How might I best integrate what I’m learning? How might I adapt this information or these insights or approaches to my own world? What do I need to brainstorm about and try? If you clicked on the links above, watched the videos, and said, “Cool!” you haven’t stretched yourself to create wisdom. Instead, ask yourself, What might I do to unexpectedly delight my customers and better serve their needs? What might I do to be a better giver or servant to others today? If I were to be an unexpected waiter in someone’s world today where would I show up, what would I serve and how would I serve it? Where am I right and wrong in my own thinking and actions?

5. Do you transform setbacks, negativity or pain into fuel for following your passion?
We all screw up. We all make mistakes. We all shake our heads at some point in our lives and wonder why it’s just not working. But do you stay there, looking down at the ground or do you raise your head, look three steps ahead and get over being an overly self-critical pinhead?!

Better behavior?
Positivity and optimism fuel ideation. It’s hard to be creative when you’re cranky, downright pissed off or even just stuck in self-pity. Applying your knowledge creates momentum, even if the application leads to a mistake. Couple this momentum with a positive outlook and your can-do attitude increases your stamina and perseverance for problem solving. Give yourself a little time to express your frustration or disappointment. Acknowledge that sh*t happens. Then… look at your setback as an Observer. Ask yourself, What am I learning? What will I repeat? What will I not repeat? How am I now wiser today? Use your pain points to create inflection points for creating a big, bold creative and innovative you.

Key: answering ‘yes’ to all five questions.

Did you pass?!

Yes: What if you answered ‘yes’ to all five questions above? Was this quiz a waste of time in just validating how amazing you already are when it comes to living a creative life? NO! Because if you answered yes to all five questions, then no doubt you are already asking yourself, What do I need to do more of, better or in addition to what I’m doing today to up my creative mojo? Who can I treat to drinks tonight? If I were to add even more value to this quiz, what question would I pose?

No: What if you answered ‘no’ to one or all five questions above? It’s great information and awareness for how you might up your creative mojo and be a bigger, bolder, better player starting today. Pick one question and a corresponding better behavior, implement it (or even a smidgen of it) and step into a much more imaginative and inspired life!


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