Want To Innovate? Science Says, Persist!

Want To Innovate? Science Says, Persist!

Psychology February 13, 2017 / By Dr. KH Kim
Want To Innovate? Science Says, Persist!

Innovators are passionate about and committed to their goals, which compels them to persist physically and mentally. They never quit and continue even when they experience challenges, setbacks, or failures, which is the biggest difference between innovators and non-innovators. To develop the persistent attitude, one of the 27 characteristics found in the greatest innovators, research says follow this.

Kim’s CATs is a research-based framework that explains how creativity develops into innovation with these three steps: Cultivate creative Climates, nurture creative Attitudes, and apply creative Thinking skills. Being in a creative climate is the most effective way to nurture creative attitudes, which enable creative thinking skills.  The 27 creative attitudes can be developed and nurtured by anyone.  The persistent attitude is defined as continuously striving and committing to goals regardless of immediate rewards, which is one of the most critical creative attitudes. Innovators simply do not quit. Instead, they switch their focused, persistent attitude into an unfocused, spontaneous attitude. For example, when they are unable to solve a problem after persistently working on it or with it for a long time, they will take a break from their work and daydream. This allows their conscious mind to be flexible. Daydreaming gives their subconscious mind time to to see the bigger picture and view the problem from diverse perspectives to find a better idea. Because of the amount of time they spend on the problem and their overwhelming persistence, their subconscious mind continuously works on the problem when their conscious mind is taking a break and relaxed. Moreover, their persistence continues even after their final creation.  They constantly think about and improve their creation, which leads to other creations. Some of their creations may not be of high quality, but their persistence drives them to constantly create. Therefore, innovators produce numerous creations, which increases the chance that one of their creations will be recognized by society as an innovation.  The greatest innovators in history produced more creations than non-innovators, and their persistent attitude helped them overcome bad luck, lack of resources, and all possible excuses, regardless of their age.

Then, how can you nurture your persistent attitude?

First, transform your interest into a passion by developing expertise in it by:

  • Exploring your curiosities, preferences, and interests (CPIs) with fun activities
  • Taking the time to find your CPIs by understanding your excitements, skills, talents, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, beliefs, expectations, what’s important to you, what you enjoy, and people you look up to; as well as your biases, fears, and prejudices; and exploring the pathways within your CPIs
  • Sharing and showing your interest to others
  • Injecting fun into the work you are interested in
  • Rewarding your small achievements by doing something you like, such as listening to music; watching  a movie, a play, or a comedy show; or taking a warm bath
  • Rewarding your effort and process, not the outcome, regardless of success or failure
  • Showcasing your work, regardless of limitations or deficits, instead of waiting for the perfect time
  • Seeking brutally honest feedback from diverse points of view and applying it
  • Breaking your tasks down into smaller pieces so that they are easier to manage
  • Specifying your goal and creating a weekly or daily timeframe for reaching the goal
  • Making a list of potential obstacles that might prevent you from reaching your goal
  • Putting a visual reminder of your goal somewhere you can easily see it, such as a picture, a sign, or a note above your computer screen, or a cellphone reminder
  • Self-monitoring your progress using a journal or a calendar
  • Not allowing yourself to be inactive, lazy, procrastinate, or quit

Second, when an idea or a solution doesn’t come easily or fail:

  • Explore related information to better understand the topic 
  • Examine the reasons that caused you to fail and try new or different methods the next time
  • Physically move to a new location
  • Switch between two projects or ideas, and avoid multitasking
  • Strategize by solving a piece of the problem instead of attempting to solve the whole thing
  • See the problem as a forest rather than an individual tree, and  find similarities and differences between the trees (elements of the problem
  • Think about the problem away from:
    • “Yourself” — as if it happened to or was solved by others who are totally different from you (those who are away from your family, friend, or social circle)
    • “Here” — as if it happened or was solved in 5,000 miles away from you rather than in your community
    • “Now” — as if it happened or was solved five years in the future rather than today
    • “Reality” — as if it happened or was solved in an imaginative world, or it was solved by a thing or an animal, not by people
  • Imagine you are a superhero who must overcome a challenge
  • Write "I will overcome" where you will easily and regularly see it
  • Write each barrier or creative block on a piece of paper and put it on a wall; and then one at a time, remove each barrier and replace it with a possible solution for it
  • Take a break, and let your subconscious mind work on the problem
  • Move to a less-demanding task, and step away from  the problem for a while

Finally, challenge yourself by:

  • Squelching instant-gratification in today’s fast-paced world by reducing fast food and disposable things, and slowing yourself  down while doing things such as cooking, repairing, and reusing things
  • Expecting excellence and your best performance by setting the bar right above what you have just accomplished
  • Completing a task in a certain amount of time
  • Generating a certain number of ideas for a solution
  • Placing yourself in difficult situations where you are likely to fail or get frustrated, and working your way through it
  • Working on open-ended problems that have infinite solutions or no solutions

Find more research findings about how to innovate in The Creativity Challenge: How We Can Recapture American Innovation, and follow Dr. KH Kim @Kreativity_Kim on Tweeter.

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