Innovation starts within

We often look towards others for inspiration and forget to look inwards, to notice our own internal inspiration, thereby losing the link between what inspires us and inspiring others. 

When it comes to innovation we can fall into the same trap missing the vital foundation that self- innovation provides.

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of Innovation is ‘To innovate’ of which the definition is ‘Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or product’  Interestingly there is no definition for Self-Innovation. A definition could include: ‘Make changes to established ideas/beliefs, ways of behaving and showing up /operating in the world’  

A significant foundation for leading a successful and fulfilled life, both professionally and personally, is Self-Innovation.  Like the well- used metaphor of putting the oxygen mask on ourselves before attempting to help others, exploring self- innovation enables us to contribute to others, our communities, the organisations we work with and for and the world we live in, in a more meaningful  way -  because, we have put ourselves in the picture!  

Self-Innovation ignites a hunger in us that propels us towards our compelling purpose.

We are a product of our own creation, built on a foundation of beliefs (made up and inherited) made real by the behaviours we engage in (often unconsciously) that result in outcomes ranging in bandwidth from disaster to fabulous.

Self -innovation requires letting go of beliefs and behaviours that continue to keep you stuck and exhausted.

Self- innovation leads to igniting innovation in others.

Self-Innovation is not a linear process it’s an evolving dance that connects in three components:

  1. Self: What’s important to me, what holds me back and what moves me forward. It’s incredibly important to take time to focus on ‘Self’ to understand what we need and how we have those needs met. It’s where we uncover whether our needs are being met in a healthy or in an unhealthy way.

  2. Other: From the perspective of Other we observe the impact on others, what do they want/need? How does the thing I want and need impact others? This is a place of deep curiosity that takes us out of self and our needs /interests and connects us to the needs /interests of others. Here we ignite our hunger to the hunger of others. It’s a place of a meeting of minds, passion and purpose .Sometimes it’s bumpy here as we take in diverse viewpoints and make sense of what this means from a higher perspective. When we look through this lens, we broaden our view

  3. World: When we take in a world view, we look at culture, atmosphere and values. We look at what’s needed, how and where we need to unite and step up. It’s no longer a solitary game, we play big here, we don’t have the answers and we lean in together to create impact and change at an organisational and global level.

Holly Ranson who was featured in the February / March issue of  Gloss was deeply connected to her ‘Why’ her reason for being and acting, she was not put off by not knowing ‘the how’

Another killer of self-innovation are the saboteurs that can reign free in our minds, they starve innovation by their rules of who we are and who we are not, what is possible and what is not,  stifling self-belief and self-confidence. We melt under their gaze forgetting to have fun and to back ourselves, instead, we find ourselves backed into a corner. 

Fortunately we have our Champions who also live here, they are our unsung heroes. We just need to turn down the volume on the saboteur’s voice and hear the voice of our champions. They are already at the summit guiding us up, keeping our flow of ideas alive, inviting us to come and play, to have fun and see the world from a higher view. Here we connect themes, ideas and people. Here we are innovative!

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This article first appeared in  April - May Edition of GLOSS Magazine 


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I work with Teams who are serious about lifting both engagement and performance to drive greater business outcomes.  Teams I work with are achieving a minimum uplift of 25% in both performance and engagement.

What would a 25% uplift do for your team /organisation?  If you are committed about lifting team performance I would love to work with you.

I am passionate about working with individuals and organistations to work towards creating greater gender balance in organistations and governments.  I have spent 16 years researching how women define themselves through the lens of success. 

Pollyanna Lenkic