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Sitting in a local cinema watching the live streaming of the opening session of the TED Conference 2016 in Vancouver, I listened to the first speaker discuss how she believes it’s time for parents to stop asking kids what they want to do when they grow up and let them get on with what they want to do right now.

What makes Ishita Katyal qualified to suggest this? She is a published author and the youngest TedxYouth organizer of the Asia-Pacific Region.

She is ten years old.

I recently spent a very happy day providing my own food for thought for stimulating insight at an Innovation Festival for high school students. It was a whole heap of fun and I especially enjoyed learning about fire tornadoes from Tsai Her Mann who works at the Science Centre in Singapore.

So, let me ask you a couple of questions:

Do you consider yourself innovative?

Are you good at coming up with new ideas on how things could be done differently to be done better?

Or do you hope someone else might do that and then show you how to do it?

Innovation isn’t anything remarkable or unique to certain individuals. We all have the capacity to be innovative – if we give our brain the opportunity to practice.

What stops us from innovation is ourselves.

Innovation takes time, some thinking space and a willingness to try something out knowing it may not work. Rather than worrying about failure, the fun comes from trying something out because the reward is it might work!

“Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.”

Albert Szent-Gyorgi

At some point between childhood and adulthood, our spark of creativity, imagination and brilliant new ideas can (unless we take deliberate action to retain them) get progressively snuffed out. We end up in jobs constrained by rules, policies and expectations. We fulfil our obligations but are not necessarily provided with the time or freedom to explore how we can improve how we think and operate.

Yet, innovation is what drives growth and opportunity. Our rapid technological advances, the way we grow and produce our food, construct buildings, produce medicines and vaccines would not be possible without it.

What matters is taking the time out from our over-reliance on analysis, reasoning and logic to come up with the solutions to our problems and letting go. It’s no surprise that the solution to some of our most challenging problems come to us at that magical moment of insight when our brain chooses the alternative, more scenic route to an answer.

Can you be more innovative?

Can you find a way to solve problems more quickly and make better decisions?

The answer is absolutely yes. You have a magnificent plastic brain that is adaptive and continually evolving. Your choice of focus changes how you think and how you behave.

The way forward lies in developing our fluid intelligence – our ability to use our cognition (conscious thought) and insight coupled with our innate sense of child like curiosity and willingness to explore.

Are you ready to cast off the bow-lines and sail into an unknown sea of innovation?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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