Newsletter 600 – Why Aren’t You an Innovator?

innovationbulb Have you ever thought about writing a book, starting a business, planting a church, or quitting your day job to try something different? What’s holding you back? Inc magazine (February 2015) notes that “the default state of the human psyche is doubt, fear of failure, and avoidance of regret. For some reason entrepreneurs aren’t wired that way.” But more of us “see risk around every corner.” Fear holds us back so we dream about what might be but we never take action to make things happen. How do we overcome that fear? One Inc columnist writes that the answer is to plan.

That’s way too simplistic. There is no one answer. Planning is valuable. So is goal-setting. But consider these other issues that have a bearing on our ability to overcome fear and do something new or innovative:

  • Personality. Do you have a risk-taker mentality or orientation? Some people will resist stepping out regardless of the plan, goal, or potential. Forcing these people (including ourselves) to take risks rarely works.
  • People. Some innovators work well alone, but innovation or goal-accomplishment is more likely in those who work with others, have support, or connect with coaches and mentors who give encouragement, and guidance. Have you ever kept going because somebody believed in you?
  • Patience and persistence. Inventions and innovative ideas can be slow to develop. Good books, academic theses and doctoral dissertations usually take a long time to write. It takes years to master a musical instrument, acquire a new language, or develop top proficiency in a sport.
  • Possibilities. This week I read a book chapter about the role of luck in innovations and success. Malcolm Gladwell, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates all attribute some of their successes to luck. Whether or not you believe in luck (I don’t) it is clear that some success comes from opportunities that arise, the education or environments that we experience, the innate abilities that we inherit, or from being in the right place at the right time. Christians are likely to see the hand of God in all this.
  • Prayer. Never underestimate the power of God to guide or provide what we need to innovate.

Business magazines place a high value on innovation. Maybe too high. What if we never innovate or reach goals, but dutifully use what we’ve got to improve the world around us? Is that failure? Please comment.


  1. For the life of me I can’t seem to finish the book I started years ago. To be honest, the first chapter, the first lines are but an idea that keeps playing in my mind like an old Dan Fogelberg song. But still, the desire is there just as much as the nose on my face is, only the motivation and umph to “get started” continue to lag far, far behind. Am I a failure? Am I not being a good steward of the gifts God has given me, or am I depending on luck (which I don’t believe in) to befall some good fortune on me one day? Could it be that the fire and passion and nothings-going-to-get-in-my-way attitude of my youth has faded, that my desire to begin this project still simmers on the back burner because God birthed it, and now just isn’t the right time to give it wings? As a father of 3 young boys under age 10 with my second career having just taken flight with receipt of my doctoral diploma only weeks ago, I find myself wishing I were more innovative and more of an entrepreneur than I am. But instead of bemoaning the things that aren’t I’ve taken a different tact, realizing that this season in my life is allowing me to practice sacred parenting while still prioritizing those God-given passions for later deployment. My personality will never be confused for lazy and amotivational, and the people God has brought into my life who share a similar passion would fill a few Rolodexes. All this to say that no, I’m not a failure. The God I serve doesn’t need me to do anything. Oh, he wants me to live selflessly and to serve others, and to a large degree I’m doing that as best as possible. I believe that I will have failed only if I don’t recognize that my heart is aligned with God’s when I seek to bring Him glory through everything I do, even if that means mulling over the unfin…not-yet-begun book He placed on my heart long before the boys and graduate school and postdoctoral life required more attention than I’d realized it would. But oh, to have that book already under way. That will happen. Not today, but some day.


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