Would you do this for fun?

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

When I started out researching, interviewing and experimenting for my book “Breakthrough Ideas” I wanted practical, hands-on tools and resources that would give people the best possible chance and actionable results.

I pride myself on action orientation and leadership of change and used these qualities to go beyond deep research into the subject of turning new business ideas into viable products and services. I collaborated with several start-ups and experienced small business people to test-drive my concepts to ensure that they work in the real world.

One key ingredient was to ensure that the tools and techniques would be fun to use. This is important. Why would you put all the hard work, time and money into developing a promising new idea unless it was going to be fun to do?

One of the celebrity entrepreneurs who I admire says that you should ask yourself when pursuing an idea whether you would do it for fun. This comes from an entrepreneur who started at the very bottom and worked his way up. He’s not someone who has become rich and famous and dishes out advice to extend his brand personality. No, this entrepreneur walks his talk. He has a genuine interest in helping others do well for themselves – a rare quality.

Pursuing an idea that you want to turn into a small business needs to be fun. It especially needs to be fun if you think you are eventually going to make a living from it and it will be your main lifestyle. You need to put in the extra hours, burn the midnight oil, suffer the pain of the challenges that are presented to you and work weekends until you don’t even know what a break feels like. Of course, you need to take breaks but you know what I mean.

The important ingredient of fun comes with the underlying belief that doing something for yourself, starting something from scratch and making it work gives you a freedom that others year for.

Yet once you have earned your freedom through the vehicle of a successful enterprise you need to be extra careful to not give that freedom away. What do I mean by this? It’s simple. You can so easily give your freedom away to bankers when you take out loans. You can give your freedom away to shareholders who take a cut of your business. You can give your freedom away to a landlord who sinks you and your business into a deep spiral of debt by jacking up your rental with exorbitant annual increases.

You have to be on your guard. All of these and many other traps lie in wait for the unwary. They may be furthest from your mind when you start out but when you plan your formal legal structure, access to finance and location it’s important to consider how much of your freedom you are giving away to others.

Yes, that celebrity entrepreneur knows what he is talking about when he says ask yourself whether you are doing this for fun. It sounds like an innocuous question but behind it is really how much meaning does it give to you and how much freedom?

Recognise these six mental blocks to innovation?

INNOVATION: Spinning rock relics into cash. Photo: © Chesney Bradshaw 2011

Being blocked in our ability to produce ideas and innovate can feel like being sucked into a narrow tunnel, a dark passage, a deep cave – where we can remain trapped for what seems like an eternity.

How can we snap out of our unfortunate trance? What are some of the psychological and emotional obstacles blocking our state of creativity, our flow of ideas?

Here are six mental blocks creators and innovators need to recognise and overcome their mesmerising spell:

1 Coveting the status quo

We don’t want to disturb the existing order, the way we have always done things. Trapped in the bliss of our comfort zones, the dull grey hue of existence becomes a pale but safe substitute for the risk of being energised and feeling alive.

2 Fear of not being good enough

Low levels of self-esteem become a self fulfilling prophecy. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” says Anaïs Nin. What will it take for us to believe that we are equipped for life’s challenges? Yet another degree, another course, another pile of books? We need to discipline the inner critic before and during our idea generation. Silencing it altogether is unwise as we need it later when we evaluate our ideas and prepare to introduce them to our customers and communities.

3 Analysis by paralysis

We become obsessed by the detail, believing that if we plan out things thoroughly and painstakingly we will have enough bases covered to succeed. But where’s the action? Analysis can be a violent intellectual act, the opposite of synthesising, creating something new. Isn’t the Ready, fire, aim approach more effective than Ready, aim, aim, aim, splutter?

4 Fear of change

Change can be filled with discomfort and uncertainty. Pain avoidance protects from harm. We miss the dynamic of embracing the new and experiencing personal growth. Mastering the art of handling the scary onslaught of change is not easy but what price do we pay for avoidance?

5 Ego needs (embarrassment)

We may not believe that we can make a difference; that our ideas, our thoughts, our presence possess value. What we cast out to the world will come back to smack us in the face. Who do we think we are? Our ideas will be ridiculed. You’ll only make a fool of yourself, we hear our family members say, threatened by our temerity to venture outside of the norm.

6 Secure identity

Holding safe our identity we stay trapped in untenable situations, positions and roles maintaining an image of ourselves that we may erroneously believe others respect us for. Being aware of how our identity stands in the way of seeing ourselves differently allows us an opportunity to redefine ourselves.

Remaining stuck because of any of these mental blocks can be a serious impediment to our growth and well-being — and our ability to create and innovate. It takes self-awareness to recognise the mental and emotional traps that hold us back from becoming what we yearn to be. Sometimes our lives require risk — putting ourselves on the line. As a creator in advertising, art, architecture, choreography, design, literature, music or any other human enterprise, we would do well to consider the words of Ray Bradbury, “Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down”.

Enhanced by Zemanta