3 Ways to Combat Stale Ideas
It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote.
There’s a very good reason why.
For about a year, I was churning out content on a regular basis. I was full of ideas and able to write them down in what I hoped were creative and relevant ways that helped my audience find some of the answers they sought.
But then I found myself struggling each week to come up with new ideas and interesting content.
So, I stopped. I decided to take a break. Why? Because I needed to get "unstuck," gain some perspective and allow for new ideas and creativity to find their way back to me.
Entrepreneurs know better than anyone the ups and downs of running a successful business. We thrive on good ideas and communication. And sometimes we just get stuck. We need to find ways to fight stale ideas and get back to the creative, disruptive and innovative thinking that fuels us.
Here's how I did it:
I hired a coach to kick my ass.
I've had several coaches in my career, not only since I became and executive coach myself but also when I owned my dinner-delivery service and worked on Wall Street. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the best coaches around. Most of them focused on career and business. This time, I knew I needed someone different. I hired the best coach I know who specializes in "Intuitive Action." Of course I’m partial to the field of coaching, but in this case I knew I needed it more. While sometimes it makes sense to consult with friends, colleagues, mentors and others, working with a coach is different. Coaches are impartial and are there to challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone. There's not a better place to find new ideas than in the unknown.
What's more, I could have very easily hired a business coach, but I knew this time that I needed someone to radically push me out of my comfort zone. And, oh has he! My coach is nothing like the coach I am, which has been just perfect so far. The people you interact with all the time are great but at a certain point, it’s necessary to work with someone who will challenge you and push you beyond the status quo.
I shut up and listened.
Business and thought leaders are guilty of talking more than they listen. But this extends to those of us who write as well. We tend to feel the pressure to have the answers, to speak our minds, to give information because our audiences are expecting it. But, the truth is, if you're stale on ideas, the best thing you can do for yourself and those who rely on your voice is to shut up and listen. That extends to reading as well. Seek what others have to say. You don't have all the answers, but others’ thoughts and ideas are likely to spark new ideas in you.
Studying any topic of value or interest, formally or informally, is a great way to expand your knowledge of your industry or widen your expertise to incorporate other disciplines that will enhance what you bring to the table. For me, I’m an executive coach with a strong interest in organization development and change management. So, I decided enroll in graudate school and pursue a Master's degree.
For some, the time dedication, desire or cost of formal education may not be applicable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn. There are all sorts of ways of learning. And don’t discount topics that you have an interest in that may seem irrelevant to your current career path. For example, if you run a modeling agency but have a strong desire to learn about psychology, there is more relevance there than meets the eye, since most of your job is to manage the emotions of your models who probably deal with rejection and disappointment on a regular basis.
Furthermore, if you own a public relations agency but have a passion for film production, education in that field may open up new opportunities, like offering video-production services to your clients rather than outsourcing.