Use These 2 Mindsets to Foster Innovative Thinking

One of my early mentors had a directive: "Always look for ways you can plus the experience."

To do this, ask yourself the question: "What could I do now that would make this experience even better, more fun for me and others?" Just by asking that question, ideas begin to bubble up and creative fun begins to flow about what you can bring alive.  

You become more proactive and focused on creating solutions.

I've been using this question to focus my thinking for more than 20 years, so I know it creates a mindset that opens doors and invites innovation. Hot maple syrup with pecans on gluten free pancakes is a quick example of plus-ing a breakfast experience! When a client requests that I lead a retreat, asking this question leads me to think about where we could hold the meeting so that there would be a moment of delight for everyone participating. I put my answer into action and often volunteer my own location if I think that groups will appreciate being on a beautiful golf course. This "plus the experience" mindset creates great outcomes.

There is another mindset that also creates great outcomes: be in the experience. 

Others might describe this as "experiencing the experience," "being in the now," "being present," or "being self-aware." All these phrases refer to the mental state where we are not using our thoughts to be in the past or the future. We are not fixing something. All of our attention and energy is fully present in this moment. Eating watermelon and focusing entirely on the full experience would be an example.

One of the best ways to be in the experience is to ask yourself the question, "Am I being present now?" Just asking that question brings you to now.

When we are regularly experiencing the experience, we begin to feel a sense of ease and flow in our lives. We feel calm. 

Meditation is a form of this and so is sky diving - all of you is focused on the experience NOW.  Playing with puppies is like that for me too!  Listening to a client in a coaching conversation also brings me fully into the present moment.  

Take several deep breaths, then ask yourself the question, "Am I being in this experience now?" Notice this moment for yourself.

There is a significant difference between these two mind sets.  

There is a healthy tension between being present now in this moment, and thinking about what you want to create in the future that would plus the moment for yourself and others. That is the space that innovation, new product ideas, and insights about how to be a better leader emerge.  To get there, we allow ourselves to toggle between the two mind sets intentionally. 

Want to be a better leader? Start asking yourself these two questions: 

  1. What could I do now that would make this experience even better, more fun or rewarding for me and others?
  2. Am I being present now?

Let your focus today toggle between these two mindsets and watch the magic you create!