The Problem With Innovators: Part 1

Joanna DeWolf: Self-proclaimed Renaissance Woman which is her fancy way of saying “Interested in so many different things that she changes her time commitments and interests often.” Currently, she learns with her two kids at home, teaches survival English to refugees, and eagerly anticipates geocaching excursions.

There comes a time in an innovator’s work in which the innovation works. The idea catches on. The good you want to do is being done not just by you but by others who have caught the dream. The dream is reality. What could be better?

Except it is not feeling like a dream anymore. It feels a lot more like excruciatingly hard work, excessive amounts of criticism, and endless decision-making. We start wondering if we were wrong to pursue this path. The obstacles are piling up left and right. And these people who are doing it with us? They are driving us crazy. Is it time to quit?

Most innovators for good share a few important qualities:

  • independent
  • strong-minded
  • pursuer of justice
  • out of the box thinking
  • compassionate
  • quick to pursue what you believe in
  • passionate

Here’s the problem. The same things that make us good at what we feel called to do are often the same things that make us quickly turn on others. Our assets can become liabilities.

  • independent becomes loner
  • strong-minded becomes stubborn
  • pursuer of justice for others becomes personally defensive
  • out of the box thinker becomes one who chafes under any system
  • compassion becomes giving and giving even when you should draw lines
  • quick to anger when what you believe in isn’t working
  • passionate becomes emotional

When these qualities start to surface in and around us, it might be time to retreat if only for an hour or so to process what is happening. Rather than giving in to discouragement or defeat, we can ask some questions:

1. Is this cause truly what I believe in?

Then take the time to remember that success never is a straight line. Just because things are difficult now, it does not mean that it won’t end well. But it will never end well if we give up in the midst of the difficulty.

2. Can I do it alone? Should I?

It often feels easier to do things alone. But let’s face it, being a loner can get lonely. And many of our dreams and visions won’t amount to much if we do them alone. To truly make a difference we need others to partner with us.

3. Do those on my current team share the same passion for the cause?

There really are a wide variety ways to look at the same things. My perspective is simply that: my perspective. Every single other person I come in contact with, like-minded or not, has their own “my perspective”. They are never exactly the same. Just because you are not seeing things quite the same way as one or more team members does not mean that you have to give up working together. If you both share the same passion for the cause, give each other the benefit of the doubt. Then take the time to try to understand one another’s way of seeing things.

[To be continued tomorrow…]

Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. Good thoughts Joanna…

  2. Agreed … always striving to find the balance … often resort to the loner stance …

    • Thanks G. I think some of the difficulty is that innovators are often thinkers. Thinkers often lean towards introversion. Introversion often leads away from teams. There lies the difficulty. I don’t think the loner stance is wrong. I just know that there also has to be teams and communities for doing good as well. And sometimes that requires the innovator to be uncomfortable for the sake of the greater good. Sometimes, however, it is best to move on as well.

  3. That is totally me….   LOL

  4. nicely written and to the point.

  5. [...] Advice for Entrepreneurs: The Problem With Innovators: Part 1 The Problem With Innovators: Part 2 zero-sum game Giving Up tweetmeme_url = [...]


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