Study any supremely successful organization or individual, from Nike to 3M or from Madonna to Tom Hanks, and you’ll encounter a consistent theme: an ethos of reinvention whose principles embody the disruptive mindset. Here are eight of the most important principles of that reinvention ethos:
1. Let go of the past. The past is a great teacher, but it’s a horrible master. Living in its clutches can shackle your imagination and relegate you to thinking small. We can’t go back, and we don’t need to. Your own grit and determination will become your new safety net.
2. Encourage courage. The best organizations focus on celebrating new ideas instead of punishing them. You’ll never instill the spirit of reinvention in your team by making people afraid to express their ideas.
3. Embrace failure. “Every bull’s eye is the result of 100 misses,” the old saying goes. Yet we harshly condemn setbacks. Failure is an essential part of the discovery process. Teach your team to consider mistakes and missteps a natural part of the pathway toward reinvention.
4. Do the opposite. Some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from innovators implementing a contrarian approach. Doing the opposite — upending expectations, running toward the thing everyone else is running from — is critical to stand out from the crowd.
5. Imagine the possibilities. With eyes wide open, obstacles, barriers and roadblocks are painfully clear. But when you close your eyes, your mind can transcend reality and explore what’s possible. Reinvention is born in the imagination.
6. Put yourself out of business. The iPhone 8 will be designed to put the iPhone 7 out of business. Successful companies put themselves out of business before the competition or market conditions do the job for them.
7. Reject limits. The world is filled with naysayers. Nearly every advance in civilization was met with an ice-cold reception. The path forward involves crushing supposed limits, refusing to accept the reflexive no, and unleashing an unwavering belief that you will prevail.
8. Aim beyond. Whether you are launching a product, opening a fashion boutique, seeking a job, or rebuilding a broken community, your focal point must be ahead of you. You need to move forward anticipating trends and changes in the competitive landscape.
Understanding the spirit of reinvention — even admiring it — won’t guarantee that you can live it. Adopting a new way of thinking is a process. By practicing the principles that give form to the spirit of reinvention, you’re developing the innovative muscle memory necessary to lead change