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On being new and innovative

Interesting.

Seth Godin said this today:

…The lizard brain seeks constant reassurance. It will wheedle and argue and debate with the rest of your head, pushing for one tiny bit of evidence, some sort of proof that everything will be okay.

Don’t do it.

When you indulge the lizard, it gains power. It doesn’t walk away ashamed, humiliated at its anxiety. Instead, it merely sidesteps and looks for the next thing to worry about, because, ready for this? It’s nice to be reassured.

Developing the reassurance habit is easy to do and hard to kick. The problem is this: there are some ventures where no reassurance is possible. There is important work for you to do where no proof is available.

If you’ve trained the lizard brain that reassurance is forthcoming, it will scream even louder when those projects that don’t come with proof are at hand.

My response:

How often have we heard that we need to prove an idea will work before it will be approved/funded/supported?

And yet if we want to do something new and innovative, the very fact that it is new and innovative means that it is, by its very definition, unproven. Should this then mean that it is always not approvable/fundable/supportable, then?

Not every new idea will work. But new ideas that don’t work also teach us how to get to new ideas that will work… eventually.

Apparently Thomas Edison had over ten thousand different ideas for how to make light bulbs before he finally figured out the one design that would work. Even if the extent of his effort has become the stuff of legend, and he “only” tried hundreds instead of thousands of designs, the point still holds. We’ve used that design for over a hundred years since then. What if he had stopped with the first or even tenth one, because it didn’t work?

Or what if he decided not to try because there was no proof that commercially-viable light bulbs could even be invented at all?

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

– from King Bruce and the Spider, Hasluck’s Recitations for Boys and Girls, circa 1925

About Erin Anne Beirne

I use storytelling and "content marketing" to promote my clients' work. I develop and implement communications strategies using all the on- and offline tools and media at our disposal, publish books and ebooks and market them internationally, or even just simply create a new website and teach the client how to run it. If you have something interesting to say, a valuable service to offer, or an important cause to promote, I'd love to work with you, too!

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