A Short Guide to Becoming a Creative Pioneer

After you've been in an industry for some time, you tend to see the same ideas over and over again. (This post is probably one such idea.) Sometimes, just to get a different perspective, you must venture outside of your field and go explore something completely new. When you're diving into a new topic, much of what you'll consume will be foreign to you which will prompt your brain to perk its noodly ears up. You're not blocking out ideas you've heard before, you're not wading through pages of old material and you're not bored. You're attention is at its peak and you're soaking up everything that you can in a childish attempt to understand this new perspective.

I believe that any field can be interesting given the proper understanding of its significance in the world. These guys think so too. This should give you a giddy excitement and hope because it means there are boundless opportunities for your curiosity to be satiated. In the new processes, ideologies, methods and systems you'll often find incredible insight and inspiration.

Sam Walton, in the early days of Walmart, used to regularly take trips to stores of various types to find out how they managed inventory, served their customers, laid out the store and a host of other approaches to business. Taking note of the best practices, he implemented them at Walmart and grew it into the global super chain that it is today.

For the past month, a friend has been teaching me about the inter-workings of community gardens and their impact on community and individual health. While I previously have had little interest in gardening, I find myself engrossed in gardening blogs, journal articles and research papers. Why this sudden interest? The principles of community gardening have opened my eyes to a new, wholesome form of community, physical activity and food sustainability that I hadn't explored before. While I'm intrigued by its own merits, I've also found that there are principles buried in the practice of community gardens that I'm pulling out and applying to another area of interest — education.


So let's break this down:

Let other people give you the Cliffs Notes

The great thing about passionate people is that they love to talk about what they're passionate about! Who doesn't? And you have to do very little to prompt them. Simply ask a good question and before you know it, you've basically become an expert. The reason this is such a perfect method for exploration is that, rather than wading through textbooks of industry jargon, you're getting the Cliffs Notes of the topic — a cut down version consisting of only those pieces that get them the most excited. Should the highlight reel interest you, you can always deep dive into the full-length documentary later.


Appreciate an industry for its own sake

So you asked a good question and, 20 minutes later, you've found yourself in the middle of an enlightening conversation on the pasteurization of milk. Sure, it would be easy to blow it off as boring in comparison to your expertise in rocket science. Or... you can appreciate it for what it is. If milk wasn't pasteurized, it's doubtful that you'd realize its importance and you'll drink unpasteurized milk, contract a disease and die. Good job dissing the people who save your life every morning at breakfast.

Everything has its place in the world. Appreciate it for its own sake.


Find the points of crossover

While you're appreciating a skill for its own contributions to society, you can also find points of crossover between industries. This intermingling of ideas strengthens your understanding of the world and enlightens your understanding of your own industry. For example, let's say you're trying to figure out how to increase the flow of water through a drainage system you've installed in your backyard. You might be able to take some of the methods that professional skiers use to increase their speed on the slopes and apply them to your backyard system.


This world is bursting at the seams with interesting and beautiful things. Sometimes it's hard to see their beauty from the outside and it requires taking a little closer look to really glean the value. So explore a little outside of your comfort zone. Who knows... maybe you'll find a new love!