One Step Ahead

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“Yesterday’s fairy tale is today’s fact. The magician is only one step ahead of his audience.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North To The Orient

How many times have you picked up a magazine on a flight or while sitting with a hard-won five minutes peace and quiet, and seen a brilliant idea — and realized that your first reaction wasn’t “Wow, I wish I had thought of that,” but rather “I can’t believe I thought of something like that… and did nothing about it.”

If the answer is at least once, then give yourself a good hard mental slap. If the answer is “Never, because I act on my ideas,” then congratulations — you are one step ahead of the business pack. You have the edge.

Being an innovator, a disrupter, within your area of expertise, knowledge or ideation is not just about that a-ha moment. It’s about capitalizing on it. It’s about realizing the value of what you hold in your head or your hands and making it all happen. It’s about recognizing a need and responding without letting fear take hold and therefore missing the golden opportunity.

Sometimes it’s about taking what someone else has done and putting a new spin on it, because let’s face it, there can only ever be one iPhone, one iPad, because there was only one Steve Jobs. Sadly, the emphasis has to be on the was — so his legacy has to live on in the continuing innovative brilliance of the Apple team. And the fact that there are new and great Apple products emerging shows that yes, there may only have been one Steve Jobs, but there are others who are still striking out to reach that finishing line first.

If you are a trailblazer you will seize an opportunity to take control of a situation and to see a project come to fruition. This is not just about having a dream. A true disrupter wants to see their idea, their project, actually come to life. They want to see it in action, whether it is a concept or a physical product. They are not interested in it staying as a vague ‘maybe some day’ fantasy. And this perhaps is where you need to ask yourself the question; do you have what it takes to be an innovator? Are you willing to give everything you have to follow your goal? Because being disruptive — in terms of being willing to take chances and step out ahead of the crowd, to seize chances and be seen — takes commitment.

It isn’t easy, and sometimes you will question whether you are strong enough. Having X and Y in your head isn’t going to cut it. You need to put X + Y together and deliver Z. That means being willing to work out all the aspects of delivery for X and Y which will turn it into Z.

But think about it.

Next time you are sitting on a plane… imagine that the person sitting next to you is reading that magazine — and they do a double take. Because the person staring back at them from the business pages is you.

One step ahead.

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