In a world that’s changing by the nano-second, innovate or disintegrate – are the only two options for organizations and individuals at all levels.
Unfortunately innovative ideas don’t simply flow by sitting tight on thinking chairs installed to inspire ideation. How does one shift his mindset from limitations of uni-dimensional thinking to the liberty of mental flexibility?
Here are eight secret tips from the life of the flexible dancing god Krishna that teach us how to be innovative and mentally flexible in every aspect of life, be it in business ventures or relationships.
1. Information – The first step towards innovation is information. More important than having loads of information is learning from the hen the art of pecking the right piece. Krishna had the information that a king named Muchukunda was sleeping in a cave with a boon that anyone who disturbed his slumber would be burnt to ashes. When he had to kill His enemy named Kalayavana, he simply recalled this information and tactfully caused the unaware foe to wake the sleeping king; thus exterminating his enemy in an innovative way. The clue to solve every problem may be sleeping somewhere. When upgrading one’s level of information is a continuous affair, innovation becomes a regular habit.
2. Contemplation – Just like a cow chews on grass in a meditative trance, similarly, one should chew on a concept from as many angles as possible. To convince Arjuna to fight the war, Krishna spoke the Gita from so many different angles - whether it was karma kanda, karma yoga, jnana yoga or bhakti yoga, Krishna convinces Arjuna that he should do his duty of fighting. 700 verses to prove just one point!
3. Questioning – Curiosity is a certified way to remain open to fresh ideas. In the midst of action, one tends to forget the very purpose of the action. Thought provoking questions challenge the intelligence to think about the rationale behind actions. While the whole world glorified Bhishma’s vow of lifelong celibacy, Krishna was the only person asking him uncomfortable questions about the purpose of his vow. He had taken a vow to ensure prosperity of Hastinapura and now that very vow had become the cause of disharmony and instability. Krishna was again the only one who questioned the purpose when the village of Vrindavan mechanically performed Indra puja every year. From that questioning began the famous Govardhan puja celebrations.
4. Riskification – The first lap to the road of either success or failure begins with a risky step. Most people who don’t want to embrace risk actually don’t want any tampering on their personal reputation; just like an owl that takes minimal risks by coming out only in the cover of the night and camouflaging itself with the color of its environment, thus ensuring its safety in the day. Those who disbelieve in the process of riskification lead a safe life but risk an unfulfilled life. In taking the radical decision to build the city of Dwaraka in the middle of the ocean, Krishna took a major risk but eventually created a model city that became the talk of the world. Just like a peacock takes maximum risk by coming out in the broad daylight, in brilliantly attractive plumage of colors, similarly risk takers by embracing risk also embrace self-satisfaction due to complete self-expression.
5. Connection – Not all solutions lie with oneself. Connection is about borrowing brilliance. Humans are willing to share their best when they experience the power of trust in the relationship. When people are made to feel valued, understood and respected, not only by words but also by body language, trust builds up slowly. Krishna helped grow every person connected with Him, by offering hope and recognizing their capacity to achieve greatness. Thus they were eager to help him grow in turn. He expected the best from everyone and people then automatically responded to his body language. Perhaps this is best seen when he appointed his very young but brilliant cousin Uddhava as his personal advisor. This gesture of confidence inspired Uddhava to churn out the best of ideas for the growth of Dwaraka.
6. Collaboration – Perhaps the greatest inspiration for innovation is to understand that you are incomplete. Incompleteness calls for collaboration and collaboration causes cross-pollination of ideas and potencies. Accommodating and encouraging diversity is the hallmark of a great innovator. Innovation happens when one recognizes that differences are actually strengths. To eliminate Jarasandha, 5 diverse personalities worked together diversely. Uddhava’s intelligence inspired Krishna to collaborate with the Pandavas. Arjuna’s enterprising skill and Bhima’s immense strength offered the hope to execute the project. But it was impossible without Krishna’s stock of information. Krishna advised Bhima to tear Jarasandha’s body into half and throw the two halves in opposite directions, because a demoness named Jara created Jarasandha by joining the two halves mystically together.
7. Positive Attitude – Having positive attitude does not mean that negativity will never come into your life. It simply means that you have the ability to see everything including negativity through a positive lens. Krishna came across unlimited problems in his own life as well as the life of people he loved. But every problem he faced, he saw it with a positive light, which made the problem seem so simple, and the solution seem so obvious. Right from the moment he was born in the jail of Kamsa, he had this attitude towards life. His father was bound by chains and was arrested within a heavily guarded prison house. Krishna instructed his father to carry him to Vrindavan. As soon as Vasudev, Krishna’s father picked him up, the chains fell off, the prison doors opened and the guards fell asleep. Krishna teaches us that for one to deal with negativities, you first need to pick up positivity in your hand. Only by mourning that I am surrounded by negativity isn’t enough. You need to act. You need to show that you are willing to take a step towards positivity. Then automatically magic happens.
8. Celebration - Innovation is not about success or failure. It’s about action. Innovation is about celebrating action. When one learns to accept success and failure equally, innovation is imminent. Within every failure is hidden the seed of success.
When Kalayavana attacked Mathura, Krishna ran away. Initially, it came across as his failure. But because he focused on action and not result of action, he eventually succeeded. When Krishna went as a peace messenger to Hastinapura, it seemed he failed. But actually that failure helped establish a long realm of truth.
Out of the box thinking is easy when you have out of the box dealings in all aspects of life. Every problem in life has to be dealt with differently. Krishna kept freshness in every relationship and dealt with each one uniquely. Krishna terminated every demon that came into Vrindavan according to their weak points. Possibly the most powerful factors that made Krishna so innovative were - living in a natural environment of freshness, a totally positive humorous mindset and flexibility towards change.
Krishna’s most admired signature of innovation is in his style of placing the peacock feather on his crown! No wonder, he is called the god of innovation!
How to innovate rather than disintegrate? When surrounded by information, pick the right one that is useful in problem solving. Meditate on ideas from all angles, like a cow chews grass. Stimulate your intellect with questions – why you’re doing what you’re doing; even though uncomfortable. Take risks; give self-expression an opportunity for fulfilment. Connect with people. Expect the best from others and they will do their best to help you grow. Accommodate and encourage others’ strengths by collaboration. Differences are actually strength. Act, no matter what. Success or failure, both are temporary. Focus on the act, not the result.
A natural environment, a positive attitude and flexibility in change – these are basics of innovation. The trick to innovation is to treat every problem, every person differently.
(Shubha Vilas is a Tedx speaker, lifestyle coach, storyteller and author. He studied patent law after completing his engineering degree. But, finally, he chose the path of a spiritual seeker. Ramayana: The Game of Life is his bestselling series. He’s also the author of Open-Eyed Meditations and Perfect Love - 5.5 ways to lasting relationships. The focus of his work is the application of scriptural wisdom in day-to-day living, addressing the needs of corporates and youth through thought-provoking seminars. He has delivered more than 4000 lectures across the globe. He is also a visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management.)
(To know more about him, visit www.shubhavilas.com)