Keep Your Head in the Clouds: The Benefits of Lofty Thinking

Big Idea Concept Drawing on BlackboardWe’ve all been in a brainstorming session or strategy meeting when someone presents an idea so crazy that you instantly dismiss it and move on with other more realistic ideas. But have you ever found yourself thinking about it later and starting to wonder if that idea that didn’t even seem to be based in reality might actually be crazy enough to work?

Some people are just wired to think big, question the status quo, and go against established norms. Companies that fail to nurture these lofty thinkers may be doing themselves a disservice. Many of the world’s most groundbreaking and innovative products and ideas were likely considered crazy in the beginning. Encouraging your employees to keep their heads in the clouds from time to time and let their imaginations go wild may be exactly the jolt of inspiration your business needs.

Embrace lofty thinking
No two words have done more to drive creativity than “what if?” Curious minds are catalysts for innovation, and businesses that embrace abstract thinkers typically are the ones setting the bar for the rest of the field. Although Apple co-founder Steve Jobs did have some degree of technical aptitude, coding and programming weren’t his greatest strengths. His genius resided in his uncanny ability to not only envision groundbreaking products like the iPhone and iPad, but also build excitement for and dedication to their development—which, in the case of Apple, has led to setting the standard for many products that followed.

Thinking far outside the box can lead to industry-defining revelations for a business. Ignoring assumed constraints, letting your imagination roam free, and asking “what if” can help provide a change in perspective that opens a whole new realm of possibility.

Big thinking can be a powerful motivator
Lofty thinkers have the power to energize a team. If you’re going to achieve the unimaginable, you have to be able to rally the troops around a vision and convince the naysayers to embrace a crazy idea that has the potential to lead to something truly revolutionary. Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk is another big thinker who didn’t let the seemingly endless amount of obstacles that stood in the way of building a practical and stylish electric car dampen his vision. Now the Tesla brand has become a powerful, chic name in the automobile industry. In fact, just recently pre-orders for the newly announced Tesla Model 3 approached 400,000 in a market long considered niche and unfeasible on a large scale. It was a feat that would have been impossible without a dedicated team that not only bought into Musk’s vision, but believed that together they could achieve it.

Rallying around a wild goal creates a powerful sense of team synergy. Win or lose, you’ve all bought in to the same outrageous idea, and now you’re all in it together—relying on each other’s individual strengths and what everyone brings to the whole that will allow you to achieve unparalleled success.

Great discoveries are made along the way
Even if a big thinker’s ideas stretch far beyond the realm of what’s currently possible, it’s likely they will spur many other ideas and innovations. Multiple organizations, including NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin, have announced plans to focus their resources on visiting Mars in some capacity in the near future. It’s an incredibly lofty goal that has received the gamut of criticism and praise. In order to reach the red planet, however, a wide range of new technologies will have to be conceived and developed. And while the stated goal is reaching Mars, there’s no telling what other discoveries each new innovation will help achieve.

Even if you never achieve the big goal, progress made along the way that helps advance other areas of business may prove to be equally important to the overall success of the company. So, don’t shy away from chasing a few rabbit trails on the path toward a lofty goal.

And, really … it can be a lot of fun
Operating within known confines is easy and safe, but it won’t necessarily lead to a groundbreaking idea. Tossing out the rule book even for just a few minutes is not only fun, it can almost be therapeutic. Indulging in the absurd allows you to clear out the clutter in your brain and be better prepared to focus on the tasks at hand.

What are some ways you encourage your teams to think big? What innovations in your business has embracing lofty thinking created? Let us know in the comments section below.

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