The senior leader confessed, “I’m embarrassed, I’m angry, I’m frustrated” He was reflecting on what he had each learned over the first two days of a recent Innovation Engineering Accelerator session. An IE Accelerator combines industrial strength brainstorming with very, very, very fast cycles of Plan, Do, Study, Act discovery. He explained the reason for his confession, “I used to think and work this way. I was curious, nimble and passionately engaged. Somewhere along the way I allowed myself to lose that spirit.”
Sadly - his words are not uncommon. The week before last at our Innovation Engineering College - Innovation Management course the same sentiments were expressed.
My question to everyone reading this today is WHY?
Why do we allow our sense of curiosity, adventurous experimentation and overall joy in learning to die?
I’m not interested in the “blame game.” No one took the spirit from you. Rather, you voluntarily gave it up. As the senior leader said “I allowed myself to lose that spirit.”
Here’s three thought starters on why we have “allowed the spirit to leave us”
1. It might be that we have lost sight of our mission and purpose be it personally or professionally. A cause or purpose larger then ourselves pulls us forward. It ignites our desire to learn more.
2. It might be that as the world has become more complex we are intimidated. We feel we don’t know how to explore. It’s true that the digital world is amazing. The tests, the experiments, the learning it provides is boundless. The good news is - the old ways you did things still work - talking to people, hands on experiments - basically “playing with your challenge” still works great.
3. It could be a problem with our ego. When we are young it is socially acceptable to say “I don’t know.” As we age our ego prevents us from admitting we need to learn something. We defend the un defendable in our internal mind and with others. I am always amazed that the very smartest people I come in contact with - are also the ones most willing to say “I don’t know.” Recently a PhD who is arguably the world leader in his field told me 8 times during a 2 hour conversation versions of “I don’t know”, “that would be fun to find out”, “if you test that please let me know what you learn. “
Interestingly this morning, as I stopped to take a sip of Brain Brew Coffee of course, I just realized that the barriers to the spirit we teach are really all within us. Yes training, tools and systems for experimentation can be of great help. However, it must begin within us. We must commit ourselves to doing something that matters. To changing even a small part of the world around us. So what are you waiting for? Get up, get out, get going?
Rock and Roll