Don’t Fear Your Innovative Side

Posted August 17, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in On the Ladder

Let’s face it: an innovative idea isn’t usually respected until the idea builds momentum and finally catches on.  We don’t see it as innovative until it becomes popular. Big businesses often fail to adopt new ideas quick enough because the idea might seem crazy, costly, or unfeasible at first.

What about the innovation that’s within each of us? Are we able to recognize it, or are we ignoring it because it doesn’t seem feasible yet, or because it isn’t popular?

Writer, speaker and consultant Marcella Chamorro came upon these questions when she read The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen. In her blog post for Under30CEO, she says that regular, everyday people face the same problems as innovators. Each of us has a passion, she says, but many of us are too afraid to pursue it as a career. We think we’ll end up penniless and embarrassed, so we don’t follow our passion:

But all that we’ve been taught points us in another direction. It directs us to follow the crowd and the crowd mentality. It teaches us exactly what we need to be unhappy.”

In talking to female entrepreneurs over the last few weeks, I’ve heard many of them say that they had to push themselves to take the risk and act on their idea. For many, this didn’t mean completely quitting their day job, but actually making an effort to start their business and see where it took them.

Maybe there is an idea you’ve been too afraid to pursue. Maybe it is an idea to start your own business or an idea for a new project at work. It might seem crazy or risky, but ask yourself why you aren’t acting on it.

Since we can’t help but be nervous about presenting our ideas to the world, Chamorro offers us some tips on “beating the innovators dilemma.” Once you’ve recognized what it is you want to do, find a way — as Tim Gunn says — to “make it work”:

“Find a way to be useful. If you find a way to make your passion useful to people, there is no way you will go hungry. Chances are that people will find your interests interesting, too — it may just be a smaller group of people than you’d like. To make that group larger, turn your passion into something useful and practical.”

If an idea seems impractical at first, do your research. Figure out how to make it help you and others. If you fear taking the leap and putting some money into your idea, keep this in mind:

Honor experiences over materials. There’s bound to be a trade-off when going the innovator’s route, which is a harder route than usual. You may not be able to buy all those luxury goods, but you can have access to some amazingly inspiring individuals and events.”

You might not be able to shop as much as you like or buy that new home right away, but if your idea takes off, you’ll be happier in the long run. If you’re proposing a new and innovative idea to your company, outline why the money spent will be worth the risk.

As someone who is currently working on developing a new career, I’m happy I took the risk. It does mean living with my parents for a little while to save money, but never before have I enjoyed my work so much. I’ve also never had the opportunity to meet so many interesting and talented people. Not working a steady job, and instead being a student and freelancer, has opened up so many possibilities for me that I never thought I’d have. Sometimes a change is worth the sacrifice you have to make upfront.

As you head into the weekend, think about your passions. Are you listening enough to your innovative voice? Don’t fear it — embrace it.

Read the rest of Chamorro’s tips here.

About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website

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