Insider Intelligence: Fostering Your Inner Entrepreneur

Feb. 11, 2015
Five steps to innovation

Like a mobile device searching for a network, the entrepreneurial mind is constantly scanning its environment to make a connection to the realm of possibilities wherein lies their next best idea. There is always a problem to be solved, a new way to do something better and a first time to do something that’s never been tried before. Where most people ask “why,” the entrepreneur asks “why not?” Restless by nature, these seekers of new paths are tireless in their pursuit of challenge and newness.

Many people think that they lack both the creative gene to come up with new ideas and the guts to act on them. In actuality, our brain functions creatively all of the time, making connections from the left side to the right in our performance of everyday tasks and cognitive functioning. So, if you are entrepreneurial how do you keep those creative juices flowing; and if you are not, how do you get them started?

According to scientists and great thinkers, embracing creativity is merely a function of taking old elements and making new associations. Making new associations demands a release of our attachment to old ones. It means we not only embrace change but seek it. For the risk adverse, just taking a new way to work in the morning is an unwelcome deviation from the comforting norm. Stream of consciousness scholar Dr. Deepak Chopra shares ways to transform your perceptions of change in his book, Super Brain: “When you are unconscious, your mind is passively receiving the constant stream of input from the outside world, with minimal reactions and no creativity,” he writes. “When you aware, you pay attention to this stream of input. You select, decide, sort, process and so-on, making choices about what to accept and what to reject.”

To deprogram some of our unconscious idea-limiting behaviors, James Webb Young, famous ad man and author of A Technique for Producing Ideas, offers a five-step method to support your own walk through the creative process:

  1. Gather raw materials. Increase the quality and diversity of your information by seeking divergent thinking from sources outside of your usual circle. Explore educational outlets, a variety of industry experts and engage people you don’t ordinarily speak to.
  2. Digest the material. Like you are working with a jigsaw puzzle, try mixing and matching the different pieces of information together with each other and with old ways of doing things. Have fun with creating the new combinations.
  3. Unconscious processing. Sleep on it. Take a break from your analysis and listen to music, take a walk in nature or indulge in a relaxing activity like a bath or hot shower. Unplug from electronic stimuli and allow your mind to quiet. Pay gentle attention to the whispers of your thoughts.
  4. The reveal (or the “a-ha” moment). When you least expect it, oftentimes as a result of unconscious processing, the idea will appear. Write it down.
  5. Idea meets reality. At this point that you must take your idea and put it to the test. Subject it to a forum of feedback, an experiment or a trial. Not all ideas will emerge from the test stage the same as they entered, but the evolution of an initial concept often gives birth to an exciting new development.

The birth of innovation for many bold thinkers is often a function of tapping into the strange world of the unknown. When we are comfortable with the fact that we cannot possibly have all of the answers, and are excited by new ones, we welcome the limitless possibility that stems from creativity.

As Chopra writes: “In our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

Barbara Shaw, CPLP, is Director of Education for PSA Security Network. To request more info about PSA, visit