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11 Valuable Lessons From the Greatest Innovative Leaders

11 Valuable Lessons From the Greatest Innovative Leaders

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    1. Improve upon what already exists

    Many people seem to confuse innovation with invention. To innovate, it isn’t necessary to discover something as exciting as the telephone. Innovation is the successful introduction of a new idea to the marketplace. Invention, on the other hand, is the discovery of a new idea. Innovation is fortunately far more attainable.

    During the past two centuries, innovation has more than doubled our life span and given us cheap energy and more food. If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without continuing innovation in health, energy or food, the picture is dark. -Bill Gates, Microsoft.

    2. Create clear goals

    In order to be an innovative leader, it is important to question why your idea is important to your business. Are you hoping to use the idea to increase sales, improve customer service, or maintain your position in the market? Have an idea of where you want to go in the future and then get stuck in.

    Grit is often the single-most predictor of success. Grit is not just about stubborn persistence. It’s also about choosing the right goal in the first place. The unfortunate reality is that it’s not all going to happen. How can we make sure all our struggle and sacrifice will be worth it? Make sure it passes the underwear test. -Jonah Lehrer, author and journalist

    3. See the bigger picture

    Innovative leaders who are successful at innovation regularly think outside the box. They understand the importance of analyzing their business model to find ways to stand out from competitors. The more world experience they have, the more they notice gaps in the market and the wider their exposure to new ideas, people and perspectives.

    I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose… When you connect with that love and that compassion, that’s when everything unfolds. –Ellen DeGeneres

    4. Think about the users more than the product

    Current trends and feedback are regularly considered by innovative leaders. They also tend to read widely. They are curious about the world, love learning, and get feedback from their customers because they offer the best ‘hands-on’ experience–both good and bad–of your company. Think about how you can enrich the lives of others.

    We believe that if we focus on the users, the money will come. In a truly virtual business, if you’re successful, you’ll be working at something that’s so necessary people will pay for it in subscription form. Or you’ll have so many users that advertisers will pay to sponsor the site. -Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Google

    5. Be creative

    Innovation is creative, cutting-edge, and is ignited by an inquiring mind. Try this simple approach: ask questions. The answers allow you to begin innovating. Asking meaningful questions helps create clarity and deliver answers. You cannot innovate if you do not ask yourself or others questions. Innovative leaders are brave and embrace change.

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    Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need. -William McKnight, 3M President

    6. Do what you love, don’t just do it for the money

    Passion encourages determination and perseverance. When you do something purely for financial gain, it is harder to keep the energy going. When you love what you do, the time whizzes by and you feel fulfilled. The money automatically follows.

    I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. -Steve Jobs, Apple Corporation.

    7. Believe in the impossible and be willing to fail

    Most innovative leaders faced negativity from others, but they believed in themselves and their visions despite this. Start doing and you will be ahead of those who just think and never do. Take action and be willing to fail along the way. This is part of the process. Don’t allow fear and worry to get the better of you.

    If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative. -Woody Allen, actor, author, screenwriter, film director

    8. Be a “forward thinker”

    Need a service that doesn’t exist? Are you looking for a product that you know would be useful but can’t find it? Innovative leaders use these opportunities to identify possible gaps that exist and find a way to bring these ideas to fruition.

     “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. –Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

    9. Be people-friendly

    Many deals are done in business based upon the relationship between two parties. It pays to be likeable, open, and sincere in your endeavors to secure the cooperation and support from others along the way.

    We live in a social world, and it is almost impossible to physically cut yourself off from other people. But, how we interact with others is vitally important to our happiness and success. Getting along with people and allowing them to be themselves, bringing out the best, encouraging them — these are the hallmarks of good leaders. -Richard Branson, Virgin Group

    10. Don’t be afraid of change

    We all tend to resist the idea of change. To be innovative, it is necessary to embrace change and revel in the idea of the new and exciting changes that propel us through our ever-changing world.

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    The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar… Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen. –Aldous Huxley

    11. Be persistent

    If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Success is not linear and most innovative leaders have experienced their fair share of failure. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble.

    Innovation almost always is not successful the first time out. You try something and it doesn’t work and it takes confidence to say we haven’t failed yet. … Ultimately you become commercially successful. -Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School

    Innovative leaders have a lot to teach us, but no one has all the answers. Believe in yourself and remember that we are all learning new things every day. Be bold, be brave and act upon your brilliant ideas.

    Featured photo credit: Dent in universe/Celestine Chua via flickr.com

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    Mandy Kloppers

    Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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    Last Updated on March 21, 2019

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

    You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

    But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

    To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

    It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

    “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

    The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

    In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

    Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

    1. Start Small

    The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

    Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

    Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

    Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

    Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

    Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

    It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

    Do less today to do more in a year.

    2. Stay Small

    There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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    But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

    If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

    When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

    I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

    Why?

    Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

    The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

    Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

    3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

    No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

    There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

    What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

    Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

    This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

    This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

    4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

    When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

    There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

    Peter Drucker said,

    “What you track is what you do.”

    So track it to do it — it really helps.

    But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

    5. Measure Once, Do Twice

    Peter Drucker also said,

    “What you measure is what you improve.”

    So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

    For reading, it’s 20 pages.
    For writing, it’s 500 words.
    For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
    For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

    Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

    6. All Days Make a Difference

    Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

    Will two? They won’t.

    Will three? They won’t.

    Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

    What happened? Which one made you fit?

    The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

    No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

    7. They Are Never Fully Automated

    Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

    But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

    What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

    It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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    The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

    It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

    It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

    8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

    Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

    Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

    When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

    The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

    Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

    9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

    The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

    Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

    You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

    But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

    So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

    If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

    This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

    The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

    Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

    10. Punish Yourself

    Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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    I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

    It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

    You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

    No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

    The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

    But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

    Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

    The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

    After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

    If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

    Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

    If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

    In the End, It Matters

    What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

    When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

    And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

    “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

    Keep going.

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    More Resources to Help You Build Habits

    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
    [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
    [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
    [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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