During your career, sooner or later, you’ll need to be brilliant. You’ll have to create something no one in your company has ever considered. You’ll need to create a process so monumental… it will revolutionize the way your department does business.
You will, in other words, need to think outside the proverbial box.
Of course, after a spectacular idea is unveiled and finds acceptance, its purpose seems almost obvious, and we all wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
However, it’s not so easy at 2:00 a.m. when you’re staring at a blank piece of paper (or computer screen)… praying that innovative solutions come to you.
From my experience, the key to thinking outside of the box: change your thought patterns; force your brain to work in ways totally unfamiliar – maybe even scary – to you. Here are a few tips to help shake up your marbles – and see what incredible ideas fall out:
Do Something You’ve Never Done Before
Science has proven that when we learn something new, our brains grow neurons. Learning also provides a brand new perspective on an established routine. So if you want to approach your job with fresh eyes, try something new – whether or not it’s directly related to your career.
Learn a new language, take a class on ancient Greek mythology, or sign up for CrossFit workout. No matter how big or how small the activity is, I’ve found that expanding my horizons during personal time always helps me be more productive and innovative during work hours.
Grasp a Skill You Hate
We tend to avoid the parts of our business or company that don’t come naturally or that don’t seem necessary to our job function. For me, this usually involves math.
Spending time in a different department and focusing on a new skill set, however, can help you see the bigger picture beyond just your job. In part, this is why many innovative companies insist on cross training employees.
If you’re feeling stuck with a particular project or initiative, schedule some time with a colleague you rarely see: maybe for you this is the Purchasing Director, Development Manager, or the finance office. Talk to that person and their team, and pick their collective brain. Ask them to show you how they do their jobs. Then contemplate how their plans and processes mesh with yours. Putting your heads together just may result in some new ideas… and a little spark of genius.
Look for Inspiration Elsewhere
Issac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
In other words, don’t assume that every rainmaker came up with his or her million-dollar idea in a vacuum. If you’re looking for inspiration, research the game-changers in your industry. Find out what they’re up to and how they produced their most innovative products. You may find inspiration in some of their latest merchandise, or in hearing what steps they went through to land at their next big idea… even in the details of their failures.
Study others… to learn more about yourself.
By changing up the way you think, whether in the office or at home, you’ll force yourself out of the rut we all eventually find ourselves in. This out-of-your-box perspective enables you to discover that revolutionary idea that’s been lurking inside of you all along… and helps you confidently unleash your creative beast onto the world.
Then you’ll be able to say: “I did think of that… and this beast is mine!”
About the Author: Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Noël writes and edits the career and education blog, myPathfinder, and is passionate about using these technologies to help students and job seekers alike find the degree program or career that is right for them. Visit myFootpath.com to find the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD program that’s right for you. Connect with Noel on Twitter!