“Personal innovation is the act of making a change in your life with the aim of making your world a better place” – Jeffery Baumgartner.
Over the last 10 years, much of my work focused on organizational innovation. Now it is time to turn the spotlight on personal innovation. Like organizations, individuals need to innovate. Innovation is about change. It begins with new thinking and new approaches to dealing with one’s personal life, professional life, and relationships. Personal innovation drives business innovation and is the key to sustained professional growth and to winning in a changing world.
Here are seven steps that I suggest you take towards innovating yourself:
1.Develop a Personal Innovation Plan
Envision your future and develop a plan to change your life. Your personal innovation plan should be a well thought-out, well-written plan that guides the path you will take. The plan should include your goals, the actions you will take, and the timeline for the achievement of each goal.
2. Set Short and Long-term Goals
Set short and long-term goals. Short and long-term goals are critical to guiding your path towards the future you envision for yourself. Goals will activate you, guide the allocation of your scarce resources, and keep you motivated. Do not set your goals too high and frustrate yourself. Make them realistic and attainable.
3.Identify Your Passions, Skills, and Talents
Find your passion, identify your skills, identify your talents, and decide on the path you want to take. Determine what you are good at and focus on your core competencies. Core competencies are the combination of your training, skills, talents, and experiences. Staying focused as you pursue personal innovation is critical to achieving your goals and remaining distinctive in a crowded market.
4. Invest in Your Personal Development
When you have determined where you want to go, commit to life-long learning and skills development through college courses, workshops, and seminars. Invest in improving existing skills and the development of soft skills such as writing, communicating, and technology. Take time to exercise, rest, and stay healthy. Find a mentor or personal coach who can help you to achieve your goals faster. “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” – William Pollard.
5. Develop the Right Attitude and Aptitude to Disruption
Disruption is now a normal part of a dynamic, hyper-competitive environment. It is, therefore, important that you develop an innovative, entrepreneurial, mindset and remain positive and motivated. An innovative mindset is critical to grasping opportunities and dealing appropriately with the challenges of change.
6. Establish and Maintain Ecosystem Membership
No man is an island. Tap into your personal and professional ecosystem, engaging and collaborating with other professionals and organizations as you innovate yourself. Surround yourself with like-minded, progressive, people. Connect through social media, social activities, and business events, in order to keep abreast of environmental changes, threats, and opportunities.
7. Develop Your Digital Footprint
I know many of you do not like social media. I didn’t like social media either. However, in the digital economy and the information age, social networking can be an important tool as you pursue personal innovation. If you have not done so yet, be sure to establish and maintain your digital presence. Create your website, and social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked and others. Stay connected and informed.
In the words of William Pollard, “without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have the opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
Creating a personal innovation plan and actively innovating yourself are the first steps to achieving and maintaining your personal competitive advantage. Personal innovation bolsters your capacity to deal with disruptions in your personal and professional life and ensures your advancement in a dynamic and hyper-competitive environment.
Stop wishing and start doing. Do not run the risk of looking back and saying, “I wish I had done that.” Do not let anyone define you or place you in a narrow box. Take charge of your personal development! Innovate yourself at any age!
Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She directs YourBusiness International and blogs about Innovation, Social Media, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan. Follow Elaine on Twitter @DrElainea and on Facebook.