Innovation is limited by confidence, not by ideas.

When reflecting on all the conversations I’ve had with smart people, something is apparent…ideas, really good ones, really complex one, really amazing ones, are everywhere.

What is far more scarce is the confidence that the idea will work. The confidence that pushing something new forward will pay off. I’m not even talking about the Elon Musk type of ideas. I’m talking about things much more pedestrian.

Let’s take an engineer, new to the industry, but with experience that is valued. They have experience with a better workflow and a different software than the new company uses, and they refuse to speak up because they are new. They don’t want to rock the boat. This is flawed logic because:

  1. Companies hire people to show them new things.
  2. The new company has no idea the extent of what the new hires experiences has shown them unless it is well-communicated.
  3. The company may have hired you out of another industry particularly for the different insight you can bring.
  4. It ignores the fact that what the person knows is possible might be much better than what they are doing today.

To not want to share because “You’re not sure if it’s your place to say.” is the opposite of generosity. It is in everyone’s best interest for you to share as much as you can so that someone can make the call, even if the final decision isn’t you.

The irony here of course is the fact that some of the most innovative people may be the ones with more confidence, rather than the ones with more intelligence because the confidence to stick with it and follow through is what brings it to fruition. Intelligence being just one tool on the path to making that happen. Often times, this is disconcerting for those who see themselves as original thinkers, but without the conviction to turn ideas into action. If you find yourself having innovative ideas, but never being seen that way by your colleagues, one place to self-reflect might be your confidence level.