Five habits of successful innovators

Successful entrepreneurs like Apple's Steve Jobs, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos are often thought of as people who are exceptionally creative, innovative and productive. And while achieving that level of success might not be within reach of everybody, we might be able to learn something about the habits of successful entrepreneurs that could be applied to any area of your life.

A great idea is not always the best predictor of success. Probably a better measure is what we call 'grit' and by that we mean those daily habits that translate into tenacity and productivity, two of the key ingredients that take you from idea to execution.

Habit 1: Harness the 'Medici Effect'

During the Renaissance, the Medici family did a great job of bringing together diverse groups of artists, poets, scientists, philosophers and architects. The individuals connected, ideas blossomed and the result was one of the most inventive periods in history. Those who regularly mix with a broad range of people and have a diverse range of interests and experiences are far more likely to make associations that connect things in new and interesting ways.

Habit 2: Ask the Right Questions

Creativity is not about the quality of the answers, but the quality of the questions. Asking the 'right' questions encourages you to challenge the status quo and rethink the very assumptions on which things are based. This plays an important role in changing your internal dialogue from "what' to 'what if'.

Habit 3: Focus

Contrary to what you would imagine, creativity actually works best when it has a few constraints. That's why open ended brainstorm sessions don't work nearly as well as when you focus on a very specific problem. If the problem is too big it can be overwhelming, so chunk things down and pick one area to focus on first.

Habit 4: Become an Observer

Innovators spend a lot of time just looking. They observe how people interact with things and how they find 'work arounds' for problems. Watching people alerts us to inconveniences and brings to the fore things we may have overlooked because they have become part of daily routine. Getting into the habit of observing how people do things will help you spot opportunities for improvement.

Habit 5: Do Something!

While it's important to do a lot of thinking and observing, at some point thought needs to become action and you need to test out some of your theories. Just remember, the world is your laboratory; you don't need things to be perfect before testing out your ideas. In fact, it's better to put your ideas out there and test early, getting feedback before you invest too much time and attention into something that won't work.

Habits are the building blocks of your future, so at the end of each day ask yourself the question: "If I had to live each day the same way I lived today, what kind of future would I have?"



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