So Your Culture is Hospitable to Innovation? Here’s One Simple Test to Be Sure.

the joker

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Before his deforming encounter with acid, Batman’s Joker (the Jack Nicholson flavor) was preening in front of the mirror and his girlfriend (the Jerry Hall version) says, “You look fine.” He turns, raises an already famously arched eyebrow and says, “I didn’t ask.”

This honest approach would serve many organizations who claim to have a culture that supports innovation, but really don’t. They ask, but don’t change anything. This is frustrating and discouraging to those souls who can’t help themselves and must look for new, fresh ways to grow. And, failure to innovate may lead to a protracted organizational illness (see John Wooden).

There are many moving parts to a creativity engine such as: championing leaders, outside the box listeners, seed time and money, obstacle steamroller, and bureaucracy flattener. These and other parts should be recognized and measured.

But there is one simple test you and I can use to see if we truly are working to bring positive change.

List below the last five intelligent failures you have celebrated.

  1. __________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________
  4. __________________________________________________
  5. __________________________________________________

Trouble completing the test? Then your organization is probably stuck in some important and potentially disastrous ways.

Here are a few quotes to inspire us to get on with the failures so we can succeed.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill



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Is a Clean Desk a Key to a Messy, Creative Mindset?


I lived most of my life with stacks of paper on my desk, which I think is wood, and piles of manila folders on my floor, which I believe has a rug somewhere.

Create a peaceful space to be completely present, engaged, and focused on whatever you are doing.

I used to boast I knew where everything was or that for a creative person to clean and organize would be like cutting Samson’s hair.

Not true now. Maybe never was.

Perhaps it is a blessing of the busy-ness of growth or the curse of aging, but I found myself wasting more time looking for stuff.

Worse, work-life felt like Steve Martin being jolted awake by John Candy driving on the wrong side of the road careening toward two semis and cackling like a denizen from hell. “You’re going the wrong way! You’re going to kill someone! Those aren’t pillows.” [···]

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How Do You Discover Why You Are On This Planet?


Winston Churchill said there is a great purpose and design being worked out here below.

Too many end up where they are by accident—not by purpose and design.

The Bible shows God’s ultimate plan is to have sons and daughters in His family. That is humanity’s greatest destiny and seeking it should inform our every thought and action. Should that belief impact our chosen vocation? [···]

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What Might Have Been…

One vital key to a meaningful life well-lived is to seize, wrestle with, and squeeze the life out of every day for one purpose: to create a better future.
It struck me that I was watching what might have been if things turned out the way I imagined then.

I had a crazy dream last night. I remember it, well, in fragments. My dreams are usually unremembered in the morning. This one has bits that are clear, I reach for the next connecting piece and it alludes me—like grasping for a wisp of cloud. The result is a layout for a short film with storyboards missing, but enough reclaimed to name a theme.

It was long ago and it was now. I was with family now and friends from then—people I used to go to church with and close friends from college. We were all together in a way that is impossible because of our life choices and the events that have shaped and separated us.

It struck me that I was watching what might have been if things turned out the way I imagined then.

There are a couple of lessons we can remember.

First, it is pointless, impractical, and impossible to re-create the past. Foot on the gas, transmission in “D,” eyes glued to the rearview mirror is a recipe for a very short ride. And you will not be aware of the upset and confusion caused until the crash.

Secondly, one vital key to a meaningful life well-lived is to seize, wrestle with, and squeeze the life out of every day for one purpose: to create a better future—for ourselves, those we impact and influence, and generations beyond.

There is a favorite scripture that headlines my personal goal statements:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding

In all your ways acknowledge Him

And He shall direct your paths. –Proverbs 3:5

The point is not mindless, effortless waiting for a supernatural sign. The point is partnership and the confident assurance that striving righteously will lead to more wise choices than poor ones. (We are, after all, human.)

What might have been… is unimportant. The future you and I create today is everything.

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Inertia Stinks

There is a law: a body at rest tends to stay at rest until it drops the flicker. The corollary: inertia stinks impacts all of us. We are perfectly aligned to achieve the results we are getting said thought-leader Stephen Covey. What if we are not satisfied with our results?

Perhaps we should first be brutally honest about whether or not we really want big results. Are we willing to pay the price? The word inertia­—which describes the resistance to change in motion or direction—comes from a Latin word that means ”lazy-butt” (loosely translated).

If you and I really want much better results, we’re going to have to change the way we do things. It may mean working harder, but if we are already working our butt off it means changing our approach. This is not about incremental improvements wrought by gnawing on details. I am talking about game-changers; raising trajectories.

A McMaxim precept states: Change is hard because it means doing something—different. Brilliant!

The first step toward significant improvement is to change the way we think and that means:

  • Admitting that we may have been seduced by the mediocre witch’s incantation: activity equals accomplishment;
  • Taking down our defensive shields and becoming completely vulnerable to the pain of new ideas;
  • Surrounding ourselves with and listening to rebels with a cause (if they are passionate, prepared, and respectful);
  • Actively seeking to read about those who found a new way to skin the cat;
  • Judiciously empowering someone to take something into uncharted waters—preferably 180 degrees from our current path;
  • Realizing that if we are comfortable—we ain’t changing!

Part of the magic of being human is the ability to continually learn, grow, overcome, improve, and change. We shouldn’t buy into the paralyzing notion that age diminishes these gifts.

We can overcome inertia! We can earn huge results. It starts with an uncomfortable mental journey to form new pathways in our grey matter.

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