Navigating Innovation’s Lonely Road: A Guide for the Stuck and Stalled

Navigating Innovation’s Lonely Road: A Guide for the Stuck and Stalled

Guest writer Sara Hanks returns this week with a blog offering tips and tricks for those individuals who drive change in their organizations: “Navigating Innovation’s Lonely Road: A Guide for the Stuck and Stalled.”

Do you ever feel alone while trying to drive innovation or when you’re nurturing an idea that people haven’t completely bought into yet? You’re not alone. It’s a common experience for those of us who live on the cutting edge, pushing boundaries and stepping outside our comfort zone. The journey can often feel lonely, and it’s easy to get stuck.

I’m currently building a company from scratch, leveraging my experiences from 2012 to 2020 leading the digital transformation of all quality processes across engineering, supply chain, manufacturing, and services at a former GE business. The goal is to assist others in achieving similar transformations through consulting and software solutions. The vision is grand, but I often find myself feeling alone and, occasionally, uninspired.

Not too long ago, I found myself on a solitary drive to a Quality conference in Philadelphia. The long stretch of road ahead of me provided an opportunity for reflection. I was struggling with feelings of loneliness and a waning inspiration. I reached out and phoned a friend, venting my frustrations and sharing my self-doubt. It was a simple act, but it reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my journey, and that there were others who understood and empathized with my challenges.

As the conference unfolded, something remarkable happened: my passion reignited. I was surrounded by like-minded individuals, all of whom were striving for innovation in their respective fields. It was a powerful reminder that even when we feel alone or stuck, there are always opportunities to find inspiration and rekindle our motivation.

Here are a few strategies to help reignite your momentum and boost your drive:

Connect and Collaborate: Find someone who thinks like you, give them a call, and brainstorm ideas. Share your thoughts with them, explaining where you’re coming from and where you want to go. Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration. Partnering with others can often provide the extra motivation you need to move forward.

Expand Your Horizons: Attend a conference or a tradeshow where you can expose yourself to new perspectives and ideas. Listening to others talk about related topics can bring clarity to your own thoughts. Even when you think you’ve covered all bases, you’d be surprised at what you can learn from others who are just beginning their journey. As an example, after implementing a connected supply chain system, I found myself learning new aspects from those just starting out in the field.

Embrace Solitude: It’s important to find some time to be alone and give yourself the opportunity to focus on specific tasks or ideas. Inform your family, friends, or colleagues who might potentially interrupt you to respect your space during this dedicated time. Turn off your phone and make sure you’re giving yourself the time you need. If you find it hard to get started, try this trick: carve out an hour of your time, but only commit to working on your idea for the first 10 minutes. Often, getting started is the hardest part.

Have Fun: Last but certainly not least, remember to have fun away from your work. During the conference, I connected with cousins that I hadn’t seen in 10 years. We laughed at old memories and the exciting world of teenaged children. It was awesome. 

Feeling stuck is not a sign of failure, but rather a part of the creative and innovative journey. J.K. Rowling, known for the Harry Potter series, experienced a period of ‘stuckness’ during her writing process. She has spoken about the times when she struggled with motivation and self-doubt, despite having a clear vision of what she wanted to create. Yet, she persisted, finding ways to reignite her inspiration and bring her ideas to life. Today, her books have not only achieved phenomenal success but have also inspired millions across the globe. So, if you find yourself feeling stuck in your journey, try some of the strategies above. Even feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

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