Finding Your Crayons: Innovation Inspiration from the Young

Posted by admin on July 5, 2010 | View Comments

Act different to think different. Easier said than done right? The truth is we’ve already been-there-done-that when we were kids, we just forget we did it. How is this possible? How is it that we lost that inquisitive mind? How is it that we stopped facing life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement?

We just lost our imagination, we threw away the crayons and got caught up in the reality of the adult world. That’s what happened.

Most innovations come out of some insight (aha! moment) someone had and it was all because this person was looking deeper and questioning the ‘believed’ truth of how something works. Just like kids, inquisitive people have a habit of questioning everything, looking for deeper insight by questioning the truth. Yet most people accept things for what they are, why is this? Because it’s safe, it’s that simple. We get trapped in automatic, mechanical thinking with no interest in asking why we’re doing whatever it is we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

When you look at things and believe that that’s the way they’re going to stay then you’re making a huge mistake because as you well know nothing stays the same, everything changes . Our job as innovators is to not accept reality for what it is, it’s to imagine what could be and that means thinking differently.

If you wish to change your reality I challenge you to regain your inner child. I challenge you to ‘be a kid’ again.

But before you start thinking differently (being a kid) you have to create the habit of ‘acting’ differently. This means that you’ll have to piss people off, it means challenging established rules, it means breaking tradition, it means putting away the tried and true, it means breaking away from reality.

Are you ready? The single biggest thing you can do right now to start ‘acting’ differently is to ask:

  • ‘WHY?’ Do it everyday, do it 5 times for everything you come across. Ask yourself why you do things the way you do them, this will get your mind moving in all sorts of directions you forgot existed.
  • ‘WHAT IF?’ to shake it up some more and get your imagination going. At this point your imagination is going to run wild and you’ll come up with some crazy ideas and you’ll start feeling like a kid again.

The final piece to get you acting differently is to ask:

  • ‘WHY NOT?’ When you get here, you’ll think than anything is possible and that my friend is the whole point.

Asking questions is part of an innovators skill set, but the truly imaginative one’s don’t just ask them all time, they ask them because they imagine a better way of doing things. If you want to create a better reality for yourself and for others, imagine what could be. Repeat after me: Why? What if? Why not? Repeat.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Robbie


View Comments to “Finding Your Crayons: Innovation Inspiration from the Young”

  1. Favio Soto says:

    Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion – according to physics. And it is also the worst enemy of progress, innovation and change.
    I disagree that “We just lost our imagination, we threw away the crayons and got caught up in the reality of the adult world”; rather, we just stopped caring about it. Mostly because of the work and effort that involves making a tipping point and seeing it through.
    Though innovation comes with a price tag, the Y generation fails to realize that they are the key members of the movement for progress, filled with options that challenges their minds, they shadow among themselves to perpetuate the so called “Guitar Hero” generation: Every one of them wants to be a rock star but none of them wants to learn how to play the strings.
    Repeat after me: Why? What if? Why not? Repeat.

  2. Jorge Barba says:

    No doubt about it, there will always be resistance. It's human nature to do what has worked before, less stress and a predictable outcome (especially when a group is concerned). But there are ways to fight inertia because unlike most objects, the human brain is truly malleable. I'll write about that on a later post, if you have any input let me know ;)

    As for Generation Y, we're both Gen Y so it's really on us to pick up the slack. Somebody will emerge, my bet is that any form of progress will come from the edge where rules of engagement have yet to be established.

    Thanks for the comment!

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