The Key to Innovation Within Your Association Just Might be a Mentor

August 28, 2008 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Thomas Edison said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  If I may humbly be so bold, I would like to suggest that there has been a missing ingredient in this formula, especially for those of us who work in a crowded association “laboratory”.  That missing ingredient is encouragement.    

The path to change and innovation within our not-for-profit business environment compared to our for-profit corporate world cousins can often be a lonely one.  There is a natural tension lurking within not-for-profit corporations between mission, volunteerism and revenue which can often impact creativity and innovation. 

Yet, now more than even, associations need the creative energies, courage and political acumen of innovative executives who can engineer the needed transformation within traditional associations.  Even more, associations need talented staff at all levels who are not afraid to venture out on that limb to deliver their valuable ideas and thoughts.

So how do we keep from stifling the innovation pipeline?  How do we inspire new generations of association staff to take risks?  How do we maintain the motivation to weather the obstacles of change to make a lasting difference within our association?  

The answer is a tiny spark of encouragement.  Not allot… it can be but one person… but just enough to serve as an anchor which keeps talented association professionals who are full of potential from drifting away from a powerful idea prematurely.  To provide a compass which helps them chart a course for navigating change.  Someone to tell them that, in fact, they aren’t crazy when everyone else might think they are living on another planet.    

Our world has seen countless innovators who summoned the courage to persevere.  If you wisely accept the adage that “no person is an island”, there were likely many unsung heroes who knowingly or unknowingly served as a mentor who helped shape these great people.  We are all human beings and need just a little bit of encouragement from time-to-time to muster the courage to keep moving forward.  In its most complex or even its simplest form, this is the role that mentors play in our lives.

Find a mentor… be a mentor… look for mentors in unexpected people and places… read about mentors… they will provide the wisdom and encouragement you need to bring visionary ideas to the right level and into existence.


Entry filed under: Human Imperfection, Innovation, people. Tags: , , , .

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