31 Days, 32 Revelations: Innovation Ego

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Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 15 of 31- Innovation Ego

I have heard through the grapevine that nothing being done now is either “unique” or “innovative”, but rather many regurgitated versions of someone else’s ideas. There is certainly evidence to suggest that lots of people go around poaching the work of others. However, for the people who are really dedicated to creating something new or give something old a new spin- you can’t deny them their innovation badge of honor. One idea spurs another idea and then another- that is kind of how innovation works.

Let’s be honest, we are influenced by a myriad of people, places, cultures, circumstances over the course of our lives. If you don’t think so you must have been rushed from your mother’s womb to a bubble in another dimension where no one exists; but then again even that experience would influence your view of the world. I believe we become a mosaic of our experiences. Some are hard-coded and other traits, thoughts and practices are things we select for ourselves-because it favors our trajectory in life and facilitates our survival. Let’s take Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung for instance. Freud was the founding father of psychoanalytic concepts in the early 1900’s until he became acquainted with Carl Jung. Carl Jung became a friend and a student of Freud until he endeavored to propose a slightly contrarian analysis and criticism of  Freudian precepts like the”oedipal complex”. Innovation ego of today would assert that Freud said all there was to say about the “oedipal complex” and that Jung was being duplicitous by merely tweaking already established concepts.

The reality is we received a far more refined proposition for the oedipal complex because Jung studied Freud’s concepts and found areas for improvement or better explanations for that behavior. Was Jung innovative- in my opinion yes. Was Freud innovative? For sure. He started it all, but even he had experiences and influences that led him to develop his theories.

Just because you have created something, said something profound or blazed a trail, does not make you the chief innovator for all eternity. The goal should be continuous improvement of all things as necessity requires it. If someone comes along and takes something you did and improves it-that is the completion of the cycle of innovation. By no means, should any founder or talent feel like someone isn’t studying your craft and finding cracks in it that they will someday improve.

From time to time, I’ve heard people say things like: “I wrote about that back in 2008 why is he or she writing about that now or we were talking about how to implement “x” in 2000 this has already been done.” I humbly pay homage to pioneers, because many things wouldn’t be possible without a few good men and women to blaze the trail. However, ego need not take over. Sometimes things need to be said again and again and maybe with a twist and a turn. Just maybe, that tenth or thousandth instance of discussing a topic or reinventing something is exactly what is needed for others to finally get it. So, next time you gurus, ninjas, experts get the gumption to turn your nose up at something you think is old, trite or lacks innovation ask yourself if it is your ego or if the cycle of innovation has been completed by someone adding a new slant or useful thought.


Czarina’s Lesson: There’s no place for ego in innovation.

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