“That’s what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves.”
-President Barack Obama
2011 began with President Barack Obama the world in the State of the Union Address that we need to reinvent ourselves and our businesses as we move forward. The ryear-long debt ceiling debate, lack of foreign confidence in the US recovery and sluggish economy here at home and in Europe has ramped up that challenge.
Now many Americans feel that repeating the same actions they have gone through in the past won’t produce the results they once did. They need to overcome the obstacles and challenges of a “different” environment, climate and economy. They need to be themselves, different, too.
So how do you meet that challenge?
As I have observed innovators and practiced the art of reinventing myself, I identified six skills that all creative innovators have in common. They aren’t technical. You only have to be open to the possibilities around you and seize the opportunities the universe and God put before you.
One: Observe Details
The first skill is the ability to closely observe details, particularly those of other people’s behavior. For you it might mean having to reposition your focus, of becoming alert and aware of folks around you. The clues you observe will give you an advantage over those who talk and don’t observe.
Two: Leaders First Listen
Before they talk, leaders use their listening skills. In most conversations, people will tell stories about themselves. Re-inventors listen. Your greatest skill in leadership is the ability to initially keep your mouth closed and your ears open to listen for trends, ideas and opinions.
Three: Ask the Right Questions
The third skill is questioning – an ability to ask “what if”, “why”, and “why not” questions that challenge the status quo and open up the bigger picture. Reinvention leaders constantly question the status quo. They ask questions like, “Why does that work in this place?” If you want to get ahead in the market, you need to go to your most loyal customers and ask them why they buy from or do business with you. It might surprise you.
Juanita Kelly, founder of Goddess Magazine, the Juanita Kelly Foundation and fashion entrepreneur was bold enough to ask the right person questions. “My advice to all (of) you business owners are to never feel comfortable being just that, keep wanting to show your clients what you can offer them and how it’s better than all the rest that’s out there; always stay on your toes because your competition is always going to try and out-think you.
The better the questions you ask, the better the answers you will receive.
Four: Risk & Experiment
The fourth skill is the ability to experiment – the people we studied are always trying on new experiences and exploring new worlds. You have to have the courage to take risks. With failure comes growth, but only if you are open to learning from your failures.
Five: Associating Unrelated Areas
Professor Jeff Dyer of Brigham Young University calls the next skill “associating.” He says, “It’s a cognitive skill that allows creative people to make connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas
Six: Build Your Network
Finally, self-reinventors are excellent at networking with others from whom they can learn.
Re-inventors start by being uncomfortable with the status quo (whether it is from within, or in their environment) and go from there.
Where are you going?
Jim Mathis is an international professional speaker and Best Selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. You may receive his monthly free e-zine with articles like this by sending a message to: Subscribe@jimmathis.com.