Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Here is the transcription for my Monday Morning Movie

Back in 2003, I took a cross country trip that would forever change my life. On June 5th of that year I hopped into my car, and I drove 11,000 miles over the next 90 days without any plans at all.

It was totally unscripted. I had no idea where I was going, I had no idea where I was going to stay, and I had no idea who I was going to meet. I was doing this to meet some interesting people while working on my next book. I had no idea even what the book was going to be about. I knew it would be a little bit about creativity. But I wasn’t sure what the main theme would be.

After driving across the country and interviewing 150 really interesting, creative people, I determined that the common thread between the people who fascinated me the most, where that they were what I would call, ‘goal-free.’ That is, they didn’t have goals. They didn’t relate to their goals the way most people relate to them.

I want to just talk about a couple of key concepts that I learned that summer, when I met all these people, and how I’ve tried to incorporate them into my life.

One of the key principles I learned, was what I call, “use a compass, not a map.” Essentially what that means is, with most people, what we do is we have a specific destination of where we’re going, and then we set our plans, and we go forth and try to hit that destination. With Goal-Free Living, instead you meander with purpose. Instead of having a specific destination, you have a sense of direction that you want to take things, but then you meander with purpose, allowing things to unfold naturally. The way they’re supposed to unfold. Learn as you explore. Learn as you do.

I found this to be an incredible powerful way to live. And it’s an incredible powerful way to innovate. Because the reality is, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what the world has in store for us when it comes to our personal lives. We don’t know what we’re inspired by, what we’re excited about, what we’re most interested in. Because the reality is we only know a very small percentage of what we could possibly do.

So by meandering with purpose, we allow things to unfold, and allow us to discover in the moment what actually works for us.

In business, this is important, because we know that most innovations fail. The reason why they fail, the number one reason, according to CEO’s, is that they failed to meet customer needs.

If you think that sitting in a back room and thinking about problems and studying things from the laboratory is going to give you any sense of what the real world wants, well, you’re fooling yourself. Meander with purpose. Sense of direction. And then explore. Meander. Learn as you do. This to me is an incredibly powerful concept for being able to live a powerful life and to innovate.

As part of that, one of the things I find very useful is the last tip in my Goal-Free Living book, which is called “remain detached.” And remaining detached doesn’t mean being ambivalent or not caring, but it actually means not being so attached to the outcome. I personally found this to be a really difficult concept. I know some people who might be more enlightened that I am could somehow not want what they want. I couldn’t do this.

I got this great advice from someone. He said, “If you want to detach yourself from the outcome, you have to attach yourself to something of a higher purpose.” Something that is in the moment, the present moment.

Because what we tend to attach ourselves to are things in the future. If I’m trying to sell someone something, I’m attached to a future outcome. The sale. As opposed to listening and serving that customer.

If I’m trying to get a job, instead of trying to convince them I’m the right person for the job, maybe I need to just sit there and listen. Maybe I need to be a better listener. Maybe I need to find out, are they the right company for me? We don’t do a great job of listening. We don’t do a great job of being in the present moment, because we’re so focused on what we want.

These two concepts together: “use a compass not a map,” which is about meandering with purpose; and “remaining detached,” which means you attach yourself to something of a higher purpose in the present moment.

I’ve found for myself and for my business, these are two very simple, yet powerful concepts that can change the way I work. Change my relationship to happiness. And it also changes my level of success. Because I’m better at listening. And better at being in the present moment and understanding what’s needed.

This is Steve Shapiro, I look forward to seeing you soon.

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