I’ve had the über pleasure of connecting with a number of cool kittens (as in kick ass entrepreneur-ing ladies – not actual cats) recently and here’s a question that’s come up a few times:
I feel like everyone else’s already created all the cool stuff. What can I possibly add? Everywhere I look I see a mountain of already-done-by-others that makes me feel like I’m full of sameness and all my ideas are meh. I’m feeling a gaping yuckness of self-doubt. How can I be original?
Are you bored and stressed out by your internal sameness vortex and worried it’s growing? You should be; left unchecked it definitely can.
Here’s 3 things you can do to call originality back to your trailblazing open arms:
1) Go on an info diet
Sayonara your wi-fi and those industry rags for even just a few days. And seriously, I can’t emphasise this enough: Fuck what’s trending online. Give your own ideas space to be born. Re-acquaint yo’self with your own ideas and give them time to percolate without judgment or comparison (aka creativity’s kryptonite). Soon you’ll find yourself brimming with originality.
2) Read widely outside your field
Innovative thinking feeds off a diet of difference and newness. Make time to check out stuff outside your field, and when you do ask yo’self: What do I think about what I’m reading? Do I agree or not? How could the ideas behind shoe design or the history of magic or that 70s natural remedies book cover or tonight’s current affairs or traditional wedding etiquette or that interesting report in New Scientist, be applied to what I do?
3) Slack off with intent
Lots of super innovative companies like 3M and Google rock a 20% policy where employees are only required to focus on their tasked jobs 80% of the time. The rest of the time, they’re encouraged to work on whatever the hell they like. And guess what? Heaps of their most successful products where born in the 20%. I’m talking gmail people!
Could you work on personal projects a couple of hours a day? Or 1 day a week? At the very least instigate a full hour lunch break – as in, no work allowed ever – as I’ve heard they do at 3M.
Get these 3 bad boys into play and you’re sure to tap into your own version of innovative radness and originality before you know it.
I’d love to hear from you. What other practical strategies to you use when you want to pump up your creativity and originality?