In a recent Harvard Business Review article Sawhney and Khosla proposed that there are seven “innovation” opportunities to generating new ideas and, more specifically, to gaining insights. This piece was presented in the context of innovation within organizations but I would like to extend its meaning to how we can optimize our lives. So in this context, here are the 7 places you can go to for insights about yourself.
- Anomalies – rather than feeling you need to conform by following the crowd, identify what is unique or different about you and optimize this to the fullest extent. This can have a special relevance in the competitive career market.
- Confluence – this occurs relative to the people you are drawn to via common interests such as hobbies or other social activities. For you to be at your best it is important to surround yourself with similar people who fuel you. Seek the right people and they will seek you too!
- Frustrations – according to the authors, “life’s frustrations are often a terrific source of ideas” so recognize these, not as something bad, but rather a source of new knowledge. With this will come opportunities and choices, along with renewed enthusiasm!
- Orthodoxies – just because something happened before doesn’t mean it will happen again. We can become crippled by assumptions and often the simple task of just challenging them and their likelihood of re-occurrence can become quite liberating. I’m not good in relationships means I will never meet the right partner – not true!
- Extremities – this is about pushing the limits and challenging yourself to perhaps go where you have not gone before. Take the foreign assignment or train for a marathon or be like the person you most admire. Live on the edge and do so while you can because those opportunities may not be available to you later.
- Voyages – get out of your comfort zone and explore what other people do. Visit other cities, other countries, try a different career and you might be amazed at how people lead their lives in such happy and productive ways.
- Analogies – you don’t have to re-invent the wheel but simply observe and learn from what other people are already doing. Imitation might be the greatest form of flattery but when you observe successful people, or those you admire, there is so much value that can be garnered from them.
Think about your relationships, your career, your hobbies and other interests; how can you make these even better? Innovation is not something that should only be associated with the next greatest technology. We should also be innovative about our lives so that we give ourselves the very best chance of leading a full life with no regrets.