Meaningful solutions to deeply penetrating and broad-reaching problems require the kind of imaginative vision and innovative invention that can only be found in the depths of the human soul. -Michael Meade
Innovation is one of those words that contains oceans of meaning. Its Latin origin means to “renew or change” (into + new coming, from the word innovare1). Renewal is not about creating something from scratch but rather re-creating what is already there. It’s in the process of renewal that we go deep.
First and foremost, innovation requires a perspective shift; in order to do things differently, we need to see them differently first. That doesn’t mean the way we have been seeing and doing things is necessarily wrong, but what happens when they don’t work anymore? Whether it’s personal or professional, how many people or organizations cling to old ways even when they stop being effective? I can say personally that change is challenging and seeing with a fresh perspective is not automatic. It takes work and it involves loss. We hold our beliefs – our perspectives on life – much dearer than we may realize. Our beliefs largely define our reality, offering us some stability in a world that often feels unpredictable and to lose a belief is to experience a kind of death. Often, it requires a literal letting go of something. Nature teaches us again and again that death is needed for rebirth to occur.
Innovation asks us to be fluid and flexible: Rigidity is poison to renewal and rebirth. It also asks us to be humble and remember that we don’t know everything there is to know. True innovation invites collaboration with others, an openness to ideas and perspectives that we may have never even considered. It asks us to put everything on the table and then be willing to start all over.
Innovation requires risk. We know the outcome of the status quo, but taking risks means we venture into the unknown. Risks can be intuitive and well thought out, a careful plan rooted in curiosity and exploration. And then, we take the leap. Will it work? We don’t know, but if what we do know isn’t working anymore, is there really any other option?
Innovation may demand a great deal from us, and there can be no effective and impactful leadership without it.
Above all, the process of innovation begins within the self. As Michael Meade said in his article, “The Light Inside the Darkness”2,
When the inner light of soul awakens from within, something also comes alive in the world around us. That is how things change, from the inside out; from the soul to the world as the individual soul helps creation to continue.
As it often does, it begins with you. With me. With each one of us peering into our own psyches to find the places where we hold too tightly to our ideas and beliefs. To discover and uncover our inner light and then use it as our guide as we seek to make the world anew.