There a many traits that separate innovators from non-innovators, one of them is the ability to perceive differently. Put simply, perception separates the innovator from the imitator. Thus, innovations come from non-conventional views. So, if we’re to develop our own capacity for innovation, as well as create a culture that produces and delivers consistent game-changing ideas, we need to develop the ability to perceive differently.
Take a common activity we all go through everyday: meeting new people.
Nowadays it’s very easy to stay up to date with people, all you have to do is click on someone’s social network profile link and you’ll get a view of their life. Still, that doesn’t tell you a whole lot. Meeting new people is the same way, we ask the same questions and get the same dull answers; which lead to simplistic conversations.
Balanced people are boring, obsessive people are interesting
Most conversations start off with pleasantries such as, “What have you been up to?”, “what do you do?”. I don’t like these question because most everyone will respond with a vague response that doesn’t get that person excited.
Instead, I ask, “What are you currently fascinated by?”
That simple tweak in the question changes everything. What you’re looking for is some degree of obsession, but an obsession that leads to a fresh perspective.
When I ask this question, most times I get a good reaction, like “WTF?! good question”. That usually tells me if I’m going to have a great and useful conversation. Another thing is if the other person reacts in the positive way to the question, he / she will love you for it because they’ll be surprised.
Try it. It’s awesome because, think about it, how many people do you know who are genuinely interesting? How many people do you genuinely look forward to having a conversation with? How many of the people you meet everyday are really interesting?
You have to really dig deep to answer that question. But, you will have plenty of answers if you make it a habit of putting yourself in the center of “interesting”.
Fresh insights are not found in the mainstream
To start thinking differently we need to bombard our brain with new ideas and perspectives. So, the challenge to perceiving differently is a human one because we tend to hang out with people who are just like us. We even design our organizations with “likeness” in mind, which eventually breeds failure because they get stuck in the same mental model and thus fail to change when the world changes.
So, we need to break away from our known network to develop a fresh perspective, because fresh insights are not found in the mainstream.
To see anew you must…
Hang out with weird and thou shall become more weirder
How do you find interesting?
Inputs determine outputs. With that said, what you let into your head determines what and how you perceive. So, don’t expect having any fresh perspectives if all you do is hang out and talk with people who are uninteresting.
That means you must seek out new experiences and people, ones that you’d never try. Really, it’s that simple. Hang out with people who are weird, who don’t fit the mold; people with uncommon sense.
You find these people at the intersection of fields, disciplines and cultures; in the fringe. That’s how you put yourself in the storm of interesting. The litmus test to detect interesting people is easy, go ahead and ask them, what fascinates you?, now prepare to be sprinkled with fresh ideas.
Bottom line: If you want to push possibilities everyday, live life at the intersection. Don’t be afraid to consider non-conventional ways to innovate. Those are the best sources for revolutionary ideas.