“I believe in being an innovator.”

Walt Disney (1901-1966)

Disney is associated with many initiatives but it’s significant that he thinks of himself as an innovator. Let’s be clear, this is an identity level statement. He’s not saying he’s been responsible for some innovations, he’s saying being an innovator is part of who he is. Furthermore he loads it by attaching this identity level statement to his beliefs and values. He believes in being an innovator. It’s a good and desirable thing and he’s owning it.

There’s an important lesson here. Many times when I’ve been working with people who wish to be more innovative one of the crucial steps to success is when they can begin to think of themselves as actually being an innovator. I’ve seen a big upsurge in a person’s self-esteem and productivity when they can do this. It means they’re taking on the idea at an identity level. And once something is part of your identity, it’s much easier to just do it. After all, it feels natural to do who you are.

It also makes people think differently about themselves. I learnt this first hand when I recognised that much of what I did meant I was an innovator myself. A lot of innovation happens at the interface between disciplines. That’s where I’ve spent a lot of my career. It’s one thing to say you created something. It’s quite another to say this innovation is down to me. Recognising oneself as an innovator is an important step to self-empowerment. I find I think differently about myself and it helps me imagine new possibilities.

You might want to try it.