I don't see the connection
How to tap into the power of cross-pollination
🚨WEIRD QUIRK ALERT🚨
I find connections everywhere, often between seemingly unrelated things.
It could involve ideas, people, random objects, or something I’ve seen, heard, or read… anything is fair game and potential connection fodder.
On the plus side, it comes in handy in my ghostwriting work with my clients. When actively listening, I discover themes and patterns they’re having trouble articulating or can’t see for themselves, helping them create a new way to express their ideas and find clarity in their chaos.
(Psst… It’s also used as a fun, creative challenge to put this newsletter together every week when I pair a personal story with a business insight to create an overall theme. 😉)
I’m unsure if it’s my creativity on overdrive, some inherent gift I possess, or simply how my brain perceives and makes sense of the world.
But I do know this: not everyone does it.
And I know that because whenever I mention one of these connections to someone, they are genuinely surprised (head tilt and all) because they didn’t see the connection until I made it.
Here’s the thing: I think more people could do it.
They just need to tap into the power of cross-pollination.
In much the same way pollen is transferred from one plant to another, cross-pollination in business happens when we seek out, share, and exchange knowledge and perspectives and combine them to create entirely new ideas and innovative solutions.
And that ability is a highly valuable career skill no matter your industry.
Here are five ways you can tap into the power of cross-pollination:
1. Cultivate an ideal environment for it
Put yourself in a position to cross-pollinate by actively expanding your knowledge base.
Read diverse books, listen to a variety of podcasts, watch interesting Ted Talks, and attend events* that attract smart, savvy people outside your geographic region and primary industry. (See my comments in the asterisk text below for the one you won’t want to miss.)
2. Be open-minded
A cross-pollination mindset means you’re open to the possibilities, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
Challenge yourself to consider concepts from unfamiliar sources and engage in discussions with people who don’t share your views, expertise, or background.
3. Lead with curiosity
Curiosity—about others, how the world works, and what’s possible—fuels cross-pollination.
It challenges conventional thinking and helps you arrive at solutions you may not have considered if you hadn’t questioned the status quo.
Curiosity is also an excellent antidote to “but we’ve always done it this way” thinking.
4. Adopt a connect-the-dots perspective
You’ll find cross-pollination inspiration everywhere when you begin to tap into your awareness and pay attention.
The best cross-pollinators use all of their senses and are incredibly observant. They play connect-the-dots with ideas and thoughts, adopting a unique perspective to envision what’s possible.
5. Resist the urge to self-censor
As you embrace the concept of cross-pollination, the natural (and preferred) consequence will be many ideas. Some of these will be great, some will be mediocre, and some might even fail miserably. But don’t dwell on the clunkers; view them as fuel to spur additional cross-pollination.
Rather than self-censoring, allow yourself the freedom to produce as many new ideas as possible without fear, which will up your chances of creating something no one has thought of before.
By using these five ways to tap into the power of cross-pollination, you’ll increase your ability to generate imaginative new ideas, giving yourself a powerful career advantage.
And speaking of career advantages…
Some of the most valued professionals are those who can successfully bridge the gap across and connect multiple departments to make a huge impact.
In my latest Forbes article, I share seven ways you can be one.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or making unusual yet helpful connections, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders craft their stories to communicate and connect better, magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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*One event I’ve gone to since its inception in 2017 is No Longer Virtual, THE intimate conference for those looking for deeper relationships who are ready to grow personally, professionally, and thoughtfully. What’s super cool is that its organizer, Sarah Elkins, loves to pair presenters with complementary skill sets who typically wouldn’t interface to bring something new and exciting to the group. (Hello, cross-pollination!) Case in point: At our next gathering this February 27-28 in Chicago, yours truly with be co-presenting with Yifat Cohen on personal branding, thought leadership, and content creation tools, tips, and best practices. If you’re curious, please consider joining this stellar group of humans by registering here. I’d love to meet you!