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You want to be a doctor? You go to medical school. You spend the specified amount of time and money. And you become a doctor. It is a straightforward path.

You want to be innovative? That route is nowhere near as direct or clear. No matter how attractively packaged those innovation seminars and masters degrees are, you cannot become more innovative by just attending them. You will however learn to think just like all the other hopeful participants.

Hanging out with people who loudly trumpet themselves as “innovative” is probably not that helpful either. How much of that is identity and ego? Especially if they are all self-consciously wearing black turtlenecks, jeans and sneakers, and arguing about which methodology or framework is the best.

You be more innovative by getting to know and celebrating what is unique about you.

You start by looking in, not out. Because you are enough. You already have what it takes. You just need to find it. Education and societal pressures tend to bury true individualism and creativity. You start pulling at those shackles.

You spend time finding and hanging out with people who do not fit the mainstream of society. People who do radically different work from you. People who live different lives. People who spoke different languages. People you may not comfortably want your mainstream friends to meet!

If you want to study, go learn different ways of thinking, arguing or communicating. Go learn different trades and techniques for doing things. Learn a new language and notice the similarities and differences in how that works and how that is used to articulate concepts.

You get out there and do stuff. Make things. Start events. Write things. Draw things. Experience things. You spend time in your head mulling about stuff that are interesting and seemingly unrelated. You say stuff that comes into your head.

You give up trying to impress others, to be right, to be special. You give up fear. You embrace your authentic self and engage as fully with life as you can.

Then one day, you will realise that you do think differently from others. And that, my friends, is how you become more innovative.

Image: Scenic route via Shutterstock.

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