3 Ways Creative Entrepreneurs Can Innovate in a Post-Pandemic World

Everyone thinks there will be a “new normal.” After all the craziness that has taken place over the past year-plus with the pandemic, many are expecting to wake up one day and gently slide into “normal 2.0,” establishing a new regular routine that is certain, predictable and safe.

The problem? It’s not going to happen. There will not be one new “normal 2.0” that you can get cozy and comfortable with like before. There will likely be normal 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 and so on.

As creative entrepreneurs, we must continually innovate to keep ourselves relevant and navigate the future.

The challenge to creative entrepreneurs is that most of us are working outside of the mainstream 9-to-5 office environment. Whether you are a heavy metal drummer, a TV producer or a graphic designer, all of us must now shift how we communicate our brand to our audience. This external task requires some important internal work first. Here are three ways you can prepare yourself.

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1. Watch Out for Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is self-doubt — that internal feeling that has you questioning your abilities. Impostor syndrome is not technically a syndrome; it is a phenomenon that is experienced on a spectrum. When we step outside of our comfort zone, we may encounter this feeling that we’re not really up to the task. Here are some tips for dealing with this:

• Lack of Confidence: Ask yourself, “What new skill or ability did I develop this past year that I can apply going forward?” Handling uncertainty is a lot easier when you can identify your new strengths.

• Perfectionism: Many creative entrepreneurs I work with want to wait until everything is perfect and often feel like an imposter if it is not flawless. My advice? Just get started. If you are proud of your work, even though it is not perfect, put it out there. Waiting until things are perfect allows opportunities to slip by.

• Feeling like a Fraud: You may feel like you aren’t up to what is being asked of you. Ask yourself, “How would my favorite author, celebrity, musician, hero or idol respond?”

• Rejection: When you go public with what you have to offer the world — whether music, art or business — some people aren’t going to like it anyway, for whatever reason. Be at peace with that.

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?

2. Set Your Mindset to Innovate

Mindset is not a woo-woo term. Your mindset stems from a collection of neurons at the top of your brain stem called the reticular activating system (RAS) that acts as the search engine of your brain. These neurons connect with other neurons and create neural pathways, which are part of what contributes to your ability to problem solve and make decisions in an efficient manner.

You probably heard the adage that your brain only takes in 10 percent of what it sees. While proven to largely be a myth, it’s still important to recognize how limited our perception of our everyday lives can be. Don’t believe me? Try to draw the home page of your mobile phone — making sure you put the right apps in the right place. You look at it many times every day, month, year. Yet you probably can’t do it with accuracy.

Because our perception is often limited, we can develop blind spots. Blind spots happen when we are at work too: We can’t see a new way to do something, or we get stuck in an old way of being, preventing us from stepping into the new.

Having a goal in place gets our minds to focus on seeing things that support it. If I told you to notice where the apps are on your phone — after an hour, I bet you could draw the home page on your phone perfectly.

Think of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, which happens when your brain reinforces newly learned information. There are many examples of this in real life. A friend recently said to me, “I got a new car, and all of a sudden I’m seeing the same model everywhere. It seems like half the town owns my car!”

This is an example of how our perceptions can change to notice new information. So why not get it to work for you?

In terms of work and getting around your blind spots, when you want to innovate and create something new, remind yourself that you don’t see everything. Consciously tell your brain what to pay attention to. Then let your subconscious start working at pulling the pieces together — without you having to do much other than telling it what to pay attention to.

3. Adjust Your Language

To be innovative, adjust your language and your internal monologue. If you keep saying to yourself, “I just can’t figure this out,” you’re going to more of “I can’t figure it out.” Your brain gets those neurons to fire together, and you get more of the same. But, if you change your language to “I’m going to figure this out,” then your brain will start actively finding ways to figure it out.

To innovate, it’s important to first generate ideas without limitations. Ideas need to collide for innovation to occur. Ideas are rarely fully formed when they are generated, so don’t take them off the board immediately with “yes, but” statements. The process of eliminating ideas happens after you have a pool of ideas — determining which idea to take action on based on feasibility.

In a post-pandemic world, it’s important to realize innovation is key to staying ahead of the curve. There will be no “new normal” — if you want to navigate this future, look out for imposter syndrome, set your mindset to innovate and adjust your language. You can use these tips to fuel innovation in your creative work and navigate the future.

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