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We are in a new season of change and growth.  If there is one thing I have discovered, it’s that change doesn’t just happen.  You have to do something to start the process of change.  That is where intentional innovation comes in. Innovation is the process of thinking that leads to a lifestyle of change.  Lots of people can help you brainstorm new ways to grow, but most never give you strategies for how to actually implement your good ideas. God has given us the ability to intentionally innovate change.

Activate Your Inner Innovator:thinker

1.  Make time to think.
Despite popular belief, sitting in front of a television like a mindless zombie doesn’t create innovative thought. I’m all for getting inspiration from TV or the Internet, but it has to be a focused activity.  I can’t just sit and vegetate in front of a television and expect to come up with the next huge idea.  Just like you set aside time to pray, read the Word, or say your confessions, you need to set aside time to think about growth!  Make it a priority!

2.   Think directionally.
Think.  This sounds obvious, right?  Wrong! Often, people get started thinking only to hit a Brain Block.  So many times I have started with “What needs to be changed?”… and end up turning on the TV to escape from the lack of thoughts that follow my question.  Think directionally and purposefully.  This means look at a specific area.  It doesn’t mean that all your thoughts will have to do with this area, but it is easier to get the creative juices moving if you start in one direction.  If a racecar driver revs his motor to its highest level but never puts it in gear to move in a single direction, he will blow up his car.  Stop blowing up your creativity! Give it some direction and put it in gear!

3.  Get some Napkins!
Did you know that most of the physical structure of Gateway was designed on an Echo Napkin? There is something innovative about the ideas that get jotted down in the heat of discussion!  You don’t have to write down everything, but I have discovered there is no way I’ll ever remember the fullness of an idea unless I write it down.  If I had a dollar for every idea that I lost because I thought, “there’s no way I’ll forget that,” I’d be a very rich man. So WRITE IT DOWN!

4.  Build a tennis court!
In tennis, there are so many places on the court for you to hit the ball, and there is someone else there to hit it back every time.  Build time into your day to play some tennis with your idea.  Find someone else, and serve your idea to them as hard as you possibly can, then let them shoot it back at you.  Whether they are exposing a problem with the idea or using the power of the idea to rocket a better idea back at you… play some tennis!

5.  Think Small.
How many times have we heard think big? Instead, it’s usually the everyday, little things that bring about the greatest change.  So prepare yourself to think small.  If you are in a classroom, rethink things as simple as how you greet someone at the door, where a filing cabinet sits, or how you walk the kids to the buses. If you are an Armorbearer in the parking lot, rethink how you open the front doors and the way you greet people. Often we get so caught up in what we see as a “big area” that we miss the simple, little things that actually have a much bigger impact.

Remember innovation isn’t automatic.  You have to make it happen.  Grab your ideas by the horns and wrestle them until you see change.  You can’t just sit back and wait for someone else to come beg you for ideas.  Fight for your ideas!   Innovate something! God is waiting for His body to become a Body of CHAMPIONS that is innovating the ideas and vision that He has placed inside us!  Practice these 5 tips, and you become an expert innovator. With these new ideas, we will GROW BIG!!!

(First published 04.20.08)

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