REINVENT CONTINUOUSLY: IDEAS FOR ACTION

Excerpted with permission from the 3rd Chapter of “Uncommon Greatness: Five Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership” by Mark Miller

Note from Bob:  My friend, Mark Miller, has done it again!  Mark has written another “Must Read” book for every leader who is committed to continuously to increase their Leadership Effectiveness!  And if I might be so bold, if a leader is not committed to increasing their Leadership Effectiveness they shouldn’t be leading!  As you will see below, today’s post will be the second of 3 Parts!  

If vision is the fire motivating a leader and an organization to move into an unknown future with confidence, the wood for the fire is found in this third Fundamental: Reinvent Continuously. For the best leaders, Reinvent Continuously is a practice, a mindset, and a personal discipline.

Following are three strategies for you to consider to help you increase your proficiency on this fun and high-impact Fundamental:

  1. Think Different –  Click HERE to read
  2. Cultivate Creativity  – Posted Below:
  3. Lead Change – Click HERE to read

CULTIVATE CREATIVITY

Creativity is a must for great leadership. Unfortunately, I rarely hear the topic discussed in leadership circles. In part this is because of the different forms creativity takes in our world. The typical connotation is with artistic creativity. Artists are truly gifted individuals—they paint, draw, sculpt, and express things in beautiful and meaningful ways. When I hear leaders say they’re not creative, they are thinking about artistic creativity. However, I am an ambassador for a different kind of creativity. The ability to think creatively.

Simply stated, creative thinking is the ability to generate viable options. When the skill of creative thinking is applied to our biggest problems and opportunities, a new world of possibilities emerges. Every leader on the planet needs to cultivate this form of creativity! Here are some tips for how to do so.

Expand Your World

Human beings cannot create from a vacuum. Our creative output is formed and informed by the experiences, knowledge, relationships, and skills we have amassed over our lifetimes. These are independent and cumulative variables. The richness of our creative output is a direct reflection of the breadth and depth of our inputs.

I often describe this part of the creative process as being like an artist commissioned to paint a masterpiece. The canvas represents the impact we’ll have on the world. The artist’s palette contains all the experiences, knowledge, relationships, and skills we have at our disposal—think of these as the paint. Let’s take this one step further. You cannot use paint that is still in the tube. It must first be applied to the palette. Once there, you can blend the colors and use different brushes to create various effects on the canvas. The combinations are virtually endless if you have the colors to begin with. When we expand our world, we put more paint on the palette of our lives that can help us create our masterpiece. Here’s my fear informed by my observations: far too many leaders have limited their creative potential because they have so few colors to work with.

There was a time early in my life when I was timid in this area. I don’t know where this came from, but when confronted with new experiences or opportunities, I would draw back. Not anymore. When given the chance to put more paint on my palette, I jump at the opportunity. Why the change? I realized that, someday, I might need the paint to complete my masterpiece.

Look at your calendar. What do you have on your calendar in the next thirty days that might help you expand your world? Is there a conversation, an event, a new restaurant, a trip to a new place that will add color to your palette? If not, try adding something.

Escape the Known

What is the greatest impediment to a better idea? The idea you are presently attached to. The best leaders can escape the known in order to explore other possibilities.

Edward de Bono is one of the world’s preeminent thought leaders in the field of creative thinking. When I met Dr. de Bono, he was speaking at a TED conference. After his presentation, I approached him and asked if I could buy him a meal while he was in town. To my delight, he said yes. At that time, he had authored seventy-six books on creative thinking.

One of the concepts he has written about is what he calls Blocked by Openness. He uses this example: If you have a regular route you travel to work, school, or wherever you are going, you are less likely to find a better route, even though one may exist. The absence of a barrier or obstacle is what keeps you from exploring, and perhaps discovering, a better way.

Most of the innovations in the world required someone to escape what was already known. When Galileo said the world was round, everyone knew it was flat. When the Wright brothers decided to turn their skills as bicycle mechanics into an aviation business, everyone knew heavier-than-air flying machines were a fantasy. In 1886, when Carl Benz decided to build the first commercially available automobile, people knew the horse and buggy was the way to travel.

These examples are world-changing for sure, but don’t miss the principle. When you want to think creatively about anything, you will have to escape your own preconceived notions, and maybe the conventional wisdom of the world, and at least for a moment, put aside what you know to be true. If you do, you might just find a better way.

What are you sure of that might be blocking you from a better way? Consider your biggest current challenge. What are you sure is true? Set that aside, then consider how you would proceed if you couldn’t continue with your current approach.

Train Your Brain

The brain is a self-optimizing memory system. This is generally a good thing and means our brains are hardwired for pattern recognition. This is a fantastic feature if you are a prehistoric person and encounter a predator. You don’t want to try to figure out the friend or foe thing every time you see a lion. However, the little-discussed dark side of this feature, the bug if you will, is the brain’s natural tendency to travel in well-worn paths. The patterns, by definition, require zero creativity. More than that, they are the barriers that block our creative instincts. These existing mental pathways become ruts.

Brain training, as it relates to creative thinking, can help you escape these ruts. In essence, you can develop the on-demand skill to jump out of the rut and pursue other mental pathways and the alternatives they hold. The best news is that there are scores of techniques to help you do this. These range from brainstorming to streaming, or jamming as it is sometimes called, to quota system—a simple idea of setting a predetermined quota for the number of ideas you will create before you make your final decision on the way forward. Other techniques include reversal, mind mapping, and, one of my personal favorites, random input. This is not a book on the techniques to stimulate creative thinking. However, it is a skill within your reach. It’s not as hard as running a marathon or learning a foreign language. However, the principles are the same. You must commit and then train. When you do, you’ll be amazed at what your mind can accomplish.

Buy a book containing techniques to spur your creative thinking. There are many out there with new ones always in the works. Commit to try a new technique every few weeks. If you take this challenge, remember two things.

One, you will most likely have an affinity for some of the approaches and, with others, not so much. Be careful: being uncomfortable with something doesn’t mean you can’t learn to master it. Remember the first time you, or your child, tried to ride a bike?

Two, you will also discover that some techniques are better suited to one situation than another. For example, brainstorming is a group activity requiring a significant time investment while streaming (also known as jamming or brain-writing) is a solo activity requiring just a few minutes. Think of the various techniques like tools; sometimes you need a hammer and other times the task at hand requires a screwdriver. Fill your toolbox for the unexpected opportunities in your future!

Note from Bob:  You can order Mark Miller’s incredible book, “Uncommon Greatness: Five Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership” today by clicking HERE

 

Mark Miller

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Miller is a Wall Street Journal and international best-selling author, communicator, and the former Vice President of High Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. Mark’s leadership journey at Chick-fil-A spanned 45 years, and today, he serves as the Co-Founder of LeadEveryDay.com Mark began writing almost twenty years ago, and with over one million books in print in more than twenty-five languages, his global impact continues to grow.

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