Four Common Denominators of the Innovator’s Attitude #2: Give up the Good for the Great.
“Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” – Peter Drucker
Richard Branson started an airline because his plane from Puerto Rico to his lover in the British Virgin Islands was cancelled. Mark Zuckerberg created the first version of Facebook to help students find hot dates. Elon Musk started Tesla to reduce global warming.
Innovators are driven to make things better, and they take risks on their journey from good to great.
What drives you? What is the issue that you just can’t accept? What problem do you absolutely have to solve? What can you just not not do? How far are you willing to take it?
Give up the good for the great
I was in the last months of my 20s when I left my advertising job with America’s first cellular service provider. We were “creating perceived need” for cell phones in people who had never needed them before; it was an exciting job at an exciting time. But for a number of reasons I knew it was not for me. When I finally surrendered to my dissatisfaction with the good, I made a leap into the void of uncertainty… inevitable if you want things to change and quite uncomfortable. Within a few months, I started a business writing and producing video programs, and I had my first client: Motorola.
Dissatisfaction… it’s a good thing
During my Motorola years, I had the privilege to work with the top 10 leaders of the corporation. They introduced me to their trademarked Six Sigma process improvement program and the concept of continual improvement. It was 1988, the year Motorola received the country’s first Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award for performance excellence from President Ronald Reagan. The concept itself, along with proximity to some of manufacturing’s most innovative minds, changed my life. They validated my dissatisfaction with the status quo.
The Innovator knows the work is never done. Whatever can be done, can be done better. You just reach a point when you untie the rope, send out the ship and make further improvements along the way. Think Apple.
Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. – Steve Jobs
No matter what destination you reach, and there will be many, the Innovator in you will always be seeking another.
Innovators don’t complain
Admitting what is not okay with you can be stressful.
Innovators use dissatisfaction creatively. Admitting this level of dissatisfaction with the status quo may make you restless, but it will also connect you with the possibilities in every problem if you respond creatively.
Letting go of the Good in your life – and your business – is always a risk, a leap, even when it’s calculated. How far can you push it before it breaks? But in a world of constant change it’s the only way forward.
Creativity is the world’s greatest natural resource. And innovation is the creative response to change. The second common denominator in the Innovator’s Attitude is to give up the Good for the Great.
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Next week we’ll look at Innovator’s Attitude #3: To Be Disruptive, Steer by your Inner Compass.