Like a Kid Again

Can thinking like a child help your business?
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This story appears in the July 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you were a child, everything seemed possible. Getting back to that kind of thinking could be just what you need to help you innovate, says Jim Canterucci, author of Personal Brilliance: Mastering the Everyday Habits That Create a Lifetime of Success. Here are some of his thoughts on the matter.

What is the key to thinking like a child?

If you look at a child, you see the repetitive "why" questions--they're not assuming they know the answers. I think we've turned off that questioning muscle. If we can get back to thinking like a child, asking a question and looking at things [with] a sense of wonder and awe... frequently, we'll find that innovation comes.

How do you get back to that place of forgetting what you know?

Seek out the opinions of experts without [thinking] you're supposed to have all the answers. Seek alternate solutions. Are there other opportunities from other industries? [And] seek a non-expert's opinion. Talk to your spouse about the problem--because they're not so mired in the details, perhaps they'll have a solution.

In your book, you write about "identifying what's impossible." How does this kind of exercise help entrepreneurs innovate?

[Ask yourself] what the greatest solution to this problem would be. I know it's not possible, but what would it be? That type of exploration opens up your mind. Nine out of 10 of those really are impossible, but [some] might be the seed of an idea that brings you to a true innovation within your organization.

Edition: July 2017

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