Over the course of our lifetime our brains developed shortcuts based on our experiences. It’s efficient that way. Things that are every day or common for us, we almost don’t see anymore. They’ve become givens and routine. When it comes to training ourselves to be more innovative, it requires concerted effort to break our patterns and to see things in a whole new light. It doesn’t matter what you focus on. The important thing is that you practice this skill, even on the most inane tasks of your day…brushing your teeth, watching TV, surfing the web, etc. Ask yourself, “What would this be like if I were doing this for the very first time?” Tom Kelley in the oldie-but-goodie video above calls this “thinking like a traveller”. What’s the point? This mind stretching (with practice) will transfer well to more important activities or decisions. It will build your ability to see things from another perspective and to challenge the status quo. It seems awkward and even hard at first, but all of us are capable of practicing this. We’ve all experienced things for the first time before.
Short on time or seeking another perspective? Ask someone else for an opinion. Better yet, if you are at work, leverage your new hires. I often hear clients lament about the “ramp up” time it takes to get new hires to fully contribute. Guess what, they can contribute right away with a pair of fresh eyes. Ask them to give their first impressions and compare things to their previous experiences. Didn’t you hire them because they are smart and come with all that previous experience? Then use it.
Thanks for reading. Sorry to keep it short, but I’m working on some great client projects and writing deadlines. Writing this blog forces me out of my other busy-ness to remind myself to practice or think about other things.
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