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Push Yourself to Breakthrough Thinking

Seize the Day! – (PART 1 of 6)

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your

years.

~Abraham Lincoln

2008 is proving to be a year of tremendous challenge for many of us. The financial markets continue to decline, oil prices have ascended to unimaginable prices – and then descended at a “bends-inducing” rate, there is continued uncertainty about the health of the global economy, contamination in the food supply... You name it, it seems like many areas of our lives are in turmoil.

In our year-end issue, we recognize these stresses and challenge ourselves to “seize the day!” That’s right: carpe diem, make the most of current opportunities. There is much we cannot control—so let’s focus on what we can control.

We are firm believers that people who make things happen – who seize the day – act as if time is at a valuable premium. (Well, isn’t it?) When we say “seize the day,” we mean seize this moment, develop a powerful sense of urgency around your projects and plans. Your sense of urgency is what makes dreams come alive and work for you.

Seizing the day is one way of being (at least slightly) in control of your life – even while parts of it seem to be spinning out of control. Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

While you may not be able to control the world, you can control how you respond to it. So wake up! Get going! Life is short and time is fleeting…Over the next six weeks, we'll give you our top suggestions for how you can seize the day. We begin with this one:

Push yourself to breakthrough thinking
Successful inventors, entrepreneurs and writers say they are often asked where their big ideas came from.

So goes the lead line in a story by Mickey Meece in the New York Times about the 2008 IdeaFestival which happens to take place in my hometown, Louisville, KY. Meece’s NYT article points out that breakthrough thinkers “will acknowledge that serendipity often plays a role. But equally as important, they say, is having an open mind — especially in tumultuous times like these. Big and small ideas are out there, they say, if you are looking for them.”

Now heading into its 10th year, the IdeaFestival (IF) is a world-class event that attracts leading and highly diverse thinkers from across the nation and around the globe to explore and celebrate innovation, imagination, and cutting-edge ideas. The multi-day festival is presented as a non-linear program designed to stretch people's horizons and promote breakthrough thinking... utilizing multiple venues to showcase, discuss and "connect" important ideas in science, the arts, design, business, film, technology, education, etc.
I attended the IdeaFestival this year and came away with a number of business relevant ideas. Under normal circumstances I would not be in a conference for gamers or neuro-biologists, but the opportunity for my brain to bounce literally from one thought-provoking and unfamiliar topic to another provoked new ways of thinking for me.

A surgeon, a global leader in his specialty, attended this year and was so energized by the experience he is proposing that he and all his colleagues attend next year to assess for themselves whether they are really thinking innovatively and pushing themselves to the highest levels of new thinking.

Here’s advice from one of the IF presenters, Jane McGonigal, a top game designer and future forecaster: “You have to systematically expose yourself to things outside your domain because the breakthrough ideas will come from areas where you are not constrained by doing the daily job.”

Innovators at the 2008 IdeaFestival offered 10 suggestions on how to come up with new ideas. Click here to see their list.

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