Four Common Denominators of the Innovator’s Attitude #3: To Be Disruptive, Steer by your Inner Compass.
The only way to create something that has never been done before is to think what people have never thought before; creating new solutions requires you to see old problems in new ways. But to see what no one else can see is a lonely place to be. So you need an inner compass – a connection to something deeper or higher, a knowing so strong that when the 141st person has rejected your idea you have the will to keep going.
Steering by your inner compass.
Companionship is a luxury here. Though you may have a strong team around you there’s often no one to ask the hard questions; you have to figure things out yourself. So to be an Innovator is a solitary role.
But loneliness and solitude are two different things. So the first task is to get familiar with solitude and to make space for it in your week, which can be your hardest job when there is so much else to do. In the month of May I described 10 elements of a morning practice, which can help you with this.
Finding your inner compass in solitude.
And it is a workout. The practice of being builds creative muscles that all the doing in the world will not. They are the muscles of reflection and receptivity.
• Solitude awakens awareness. The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your life. You can’t stop a thought from drifting by but you can control which ones you invite in and entertain. Only in silence can you truly know the kinds of thoughts you’re entertaining. Just this awareness can change your course.
• Solitude develops your intuition. Intuition is your direct connection with the source of all ideas, whatever you consider that to be. True innovators know that they are part of something greater than they are. They learn to make decisions by tuning into what they know. Over time, this trains them to trust the process when they can’t yet see the result. Intuition. “”Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk
• Solitude enhances strategic thinking. Successful innovators work on their business rather than in their business. If you’re so busy managing or worse executing all the details of your business you have no time to steer the ship – to think long-term, strategically from the high-level vision that only you have. “If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.” – Stephen Covey
Steering by your inner compass requires you to…
- Choose your compass. What gives you a sense of direction will not be the same as your mate.
- Use your compass to set your course. Make time and space every day for the tough questions in your life and business.
- Validate your course with outside sources. Once you have an answer, do your research to explore the possibilities on paper, where risk is minimal.
- Take controlled action. When you’ve done your homework, trust what you know, set manageable limits and take confident action.
Only when you shift the basis for your decisions from what you see around you to what you know inside will you be able to do new and different things. Only then will you be able to disrupt your industry. And only then will you ensure your personal success and the commercial viability of your business.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs
Take time to reflect. Without a clear sense of direction it’s easy to get lost.