Want to Innovate? Science Says, “Be Energetic!”

Want to Innovate? Science Says, “Be Energetic!”

Psychology January 10, 2019 / By Dr. KH Kim
Want to Innovate? Science Says, “Be Energetic!”

Have you been accused of being hyper? Your lively behavior might be a sign of an energetic attitude, which is an essential characteristic for innovation, rather than a negative quality to be diminished or hidden. If harnessed correctly, this dynamic attribute could be a vital tool that enables you to succeed beyond what you and others may think is possible.

Following your curiosity can be exhausting; in fact, research shows that successful innovators rely on their energetic attitudes to help them maintain focus and accomplish their dreams.  Having an energetic attitude means being motivated from within for something and passionate about it regardless of external circumstances. Identifying and pursuing a passion is a proven way to overcome not only lack of resources or opportunity, but also to avoid unhealthy distractions and behaviors.  It is one of the 27 characteristics that notable innovators have in common (Kim, 2016). Notable innovators tend to be energetic and even hyper, especially when they are inspired by something (or someone), or when they find or pursue a curiosity or interest in something.  They rely on their energy to sustain their enthusiasm and passion as they pursue their interests over time.  If you are already energetic or hyper, consider how you might use your energy, rather than considering a diagnosis or prescription of ADHD medications.  If you are not energetic and want to nurture your energetic attitude, start with maintaining a healthy body and a rested mind. More physically fit body supplies better nutrients and more oxygen to the brain.  No amount of excessive drudgery can replace the power of a healthy body and a rested mind for developing creative thinking skills.

  • Energize your body by practicing this:
    • Get plenty of sleep, especially a powerful, short nap.
    • Eat several small meals a day, and fuel your body and mind with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean proteins. 
    • Find an activity you enjoy and be active regularly, especially outside in nature.
    • Consider using a standing or walking desk.

  • Energize your mind by exercising this:
    • Read a book about an innovator who was truly passionate about something.
    • Find what others are obsessed with, or have others introduce you to their favorite thing.
    • Find hobbies or interests that you would do anything for.
    • Explore a variety of topics and skills, select a specific activity of strong interest, and take time to pursue it in depth.
    • Visit museums, parks, and different parts of town. 
    • Go the library and read something that is out of your comfort zone. 
    • Increase your ability to focus through experimentation; not all of your efforts must relate to your work or passion.
    • Read or play games in different conditions and environments, and pay attention to how this affects your ability to focus.

  • Protect your energy from people who are draining:
    • Avoid being a people pleaser, and reduce spending time with those who drain your energy by saying “No.”
    • Spend time with those who can bring out the best in you and from whom you can draw strength. 
    • Choose three words to describe the kind of person you would love to be, and be around people that fit your descriptions and emulate them.
    • Even when you feel busy, maintain regular contact with positive people to motivate and excite one another. 

  • Protect your energy from behaviors or activities that are draining:
    • Avoid wasting time insulting, complaining, participating in petty gossip, or looking down on others.
    • Avoid multitasking or scattering among many tasks; even if you think you are an efficient multitasker. 
    • Observe yourself and find what you like doing or what area in which you are happily absorbed for hours, and become best at it.
    • Take time to concentrate on a challenging task in a deliberate and focused manner by arranging your environment with no distractions for a set period.
    • Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your challenging task by breaking it into smaller or easier pieces, and get a sense of accomplishment from completing each of the pieces.
    • Take a break from your focus, and engage in an unchallenging task, which will let your subconscious mind think about it in an unfocused manner:
      • For example, take a break from a hard writing assignment and mow the lawn, which will let your mind think about the assignment and generate better ideas for it.

An energetic attitude is one of the strongest predictors of a future innovation.  Learn to channel your energy to fulfill your passion, just as notable innovators have done.  The intense excitement you bring to a task is an asset when it fuels your concentration and focus, and eventually helps you develop something unique and useful to the world.

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