The Emotions of an Innovator

The Emotions of an Innovator

GUEST POST from Dennis Stauffer

Your emotional state has a lot to do with how innovative you are, especially when those emotions are negative. How willing are you to act in the face of uncertainty and take those risks? How comfortable are you with new ideas and interpretations that may conflict with those you have? Can you overcome your biases to gain a clear-eyed understanding of the challenges you face? The fears and prejudices we all have can undermine our ability to find solutions.

Take a few moments to recall some of the negative emotions you’ve experienced in your life.

Things like:

  • Frustration
  • Disappointment
  • Jealously
  • Resentment
  • Annoyance
  • Anger     …and that’s just the short list.

One thing they all have in common is that they make you feel bad. They undermine your happiness. They can also hamper your ability to innovate.

Now ask yourself: What prompted those emotions? I suspect you think of something that happened or that someone did that upset you, but there are deeper reasons for these emotions. They form when something isn’t what you expect or hope for. Someone isn’t doing what you want, or that you think they should. You think something needs to be corrected. You already have some outcome you’d prefer, an expectation that isn’t being met.

That’s your mindset—your beliefs about how things should be—beliefs that generate those expectations. You may think someone is doing something wrong. Perhaps they’re being mean or rude. But that means you have an idea in your head of what’s right—how you think they should behave. Or, something may not have turned out the way you hoped. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you wanted. But that means you think you should have been given something you didn’t receive.

Change those expectations and your emotional response changes. What’s happening in your head has just as much or more impact on the emotions you feel, as whatever is happening around you—and that’s empowering. When you blame your emotions on what others do, you hand them control over your emotional state. They determine how you feel.

When you realize that your beliefs and expectations—your mindset—primes you to feel those emotions, you gain control over how you feel. Instead of anger, you can substitute curiosity about why someone would behave that way. Instead of annoyance at someone’s missteps, you can choose to be amused. Instead of disappointment, you can shift to resolve to learn from your setbacks. Instead of embarrassment, you can choose to feel humility. Instead of feeling the urge to punish someone, you can choose to feel compassion and understanding.

External events may not have changed. Those are things you don’t control. What changes is your mindset—something you can control. When you realize that you create your own emotions and take steps to create fewer negative ones, you increase your own happiness—regardless of what life throws at you. Skilled innovators have a mindset that minimizes their negative emotions. Because instead of focusing on what needs to be corrected—to restore the status quo—they focus on what can be improved. That enhances their capacity to enhance. Enhance a product or service, enhance their community and the larger world, and enhance their own lives.

Here is a video of this post if you prefer:

Image Credit: Pixabay

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