No one remembers the guy who came in second. But leading instead of following takes a certain kind of mindset. You need to have a pioneering mentality, a way of visualizing paths that don’t exist yet, and the ability to get people on your side.
If your resolution for 2022 is to blaze a fiery trail of excellence in your industry, here’s what to know about the trailblazer mindset – and how to carve out a name for yourself.
What Sets the Innovators Apart from the Followers?
Innovators have certain attributes that set them apart. For some, these come naturally. But others can hone them by building new habits that then become traits.
Trailblazers are generally:
- Fearless. It takes guts to do something that hasn’t been done before. But instead of the impossible, trailblazers see an opportunity. Being fearless means taking calculated risks – and knowing that failure might be an option.
- Persistent. Behind every success lies an iceberg of attempts. Trailblazers don’t stop at that first hurdle. They use feedback from their failures to guide their next efforts. Sometimes all that work leads them somewhere new and surprising – somewhere they wouldn’t have landed if they hadn’t kept pushing forward.
- Creators. Trailblazers build new things or take existing ideas to a whole new level. This means seeing patterns that others haven’t or being able to make a logical leap from current reality to a new one. Instead of just doing more with less, they find new and better ways of doing something.
- Curious. Innovative minds are always seeking out new knowledge – and not just in their own field. Being open to new ideas, conversations, and paradigms paves the way for new and fascinating takes on an industry – and the world.
- Teachable. Feedback, input, and mentorship are all key for trailblazers. They seek out experts, learn from how novices approach a problem, and constantly revise their mental map of the world.
Trailblazers use these qualities to create a new way forward for others to follow. Here’s how you can become that person.
How to Make Waves and Blaze that Trail
If walking the walk isn’t enough for you, and you want to blaze that trail as well, here’s how you can build the habits that will take you to the front of the innovation line.
- Read widely. Don’t read those same five business books everyone else is and call it a day. Read everything – research in your field, non-fiction in and tangentially related to your field, literary classics, long-form articles, the newspaper. All of it can spark fresh ideas, big conversations, and new connections.
- Question things. Take a look at the status quo from another angle. See where the problems and challenges lie and why any proposed solutions fall short. Take a scientific approach where you propose a hypothesis, test it, then adjust your understanding accordingly.
- Be confident. Fear, doubt, and imposter syndrome are the would-be innovator’s biggest enemies. Don’t doubt yourself or your goals – just keep pushing forward, and course-correcting as the data points tell you to. Believe in yourself and the plan.
- Listen up. Being open to feedback and other people’s input is invaluable. Get others’ perspectives, hear their thoughts, and keep an ear out for news, info, and intel that you can use in your work or research.
- Make mistakes. No great discovery has happened without a ton of mistakes or missteps before it. Try something, and if it doesn’t work, try something else. “Move fast and break things” is the Silicon Valley ethos for a reason. (But use it wisely!)
- Keep going. The difference between failure and success is showing up every day. A breakthrough can be just around the corner, so keep pushing forward. But that doesn’t mean to keep butting up against the same wall – use your feedback and data to inform new and different approaches.
- Stay true. If you believe in what you’re doing, it’s easier to keep pushing ahead despite the setbacks. Stay true to your goals and your mission, and you’ll find that the opportunities and breakthroughs come your way.
Let’s Blaze a Path Together
At StellaPop, we love carving fresh new ways of doing into the world. From branding and marketing insights to business management approaches, we’re not afraid to go first and claim those big wins. If your organization could benefit from our unique insights and innovations, drop us a line.