You know what it feels like when your leg falls asleep in the middle of the night? At first it feels heavy and numb, then it starts to ache, then tingle, then (thank God) it is awake and happy. That’s how my mind felt coming out of my Rip Van Winkle years inside a corporation. There were some really smart people in there, but every time they tried to do something creative the environment rebelled, taking their colorful ideas and whitewashing them to a lovely shade of “that looks just like what we did before.”
Sometimes we have to retrain our brains to think creatively, and many high performance corporations realize we’re exiting the information age and entering the artistic age. Strong leaders know that the competitive advantage is no longer the number of widgets and managerial drones, but the number of ideas and creative leadership dynamos. A great source of creativity is a book called Thinkertoys, writen by Michael Michalko. It’s a phenomonal “handbook of creative-thinking techniques” that will help you generate some new ideas.
Based upon some of those techniques, here are five ways that you can escalate your ability to stop being considered a drone and become recognized as a leader of ideas:
1. Change something about your daily routine so that your brain begins to work a little harder. Our brains send messages along the same neuro-pathways, literally creating “ruts” when we do one thing on a regular basis. To get your brain refreshed, be sure that you do something different that forces the synapse to fire in a different direction, literally getting you out of the “rut.” Daily changes could include:
Read a new type of book
Start to learn a new language
Take a new route to work
Listen to a different radio station
Read a different newspaper
2. Block out 20 minutes for at least one brain workout per day. You do that for your body, don’t you? Well, if you don’t, you should.
3. Write down a current challenge you are currently working on. Select a challenge that is frustrating you, or that is highly visible. Coming up with ideas will help generate your energy around the challenge. This “challenge” could be a co-worker or team member (and often is).
Example: Jane Doe is not interacting in my sales meetings.
4. Every day, in your 20 minutes, write down five new ideas concerning how you will solve your current challenge. Having a certain amount of ideas will help you actively generate new ideas and solutions rather than feel overwhelmed. The ideas should have no boundaries like “how” or “what if.” Just write them down.
Example: 1. Give Jane an active role in the meeting, asking her to share one idea of how she’s increased sales. 2. Take Jane to lunch and ask her why she’s not interacting. 3. Think about past interactions and performance appraisals – is she being demotivated by something? 4. Leave a note on her desk thanking her for her hard work. 5. Change up the meeting – have 3 salespeople at one and 3 at another and make it more interactive.
5. At the end of the week, select the ideas that are implementable with the resources at hand. Review your ideas, and use the ones that will really work. What you’ve probably found is that during the week the idea session has already generated a new thought that you’ve taken action on.
I’ll be providing more of these ideas over the next few weeks, so if you’re not subscribed to my blog be sure to go back to the home page or www.highfillperformancegroup.com and sign up in the upper right hand corner right above all of the social media buttons. Thank you!
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