In yesterday’s Promotional Consultant Today, we explored the importance of micro-innovating. Today, we cover what it means to be an unconventional thinker and how you can cultivate more out-of-the-box thinking. By inviting more unconventional ideas into your life, you can open the door to greater innovation and valuable change.

However, Phil McKinney, the former CTO of HP, says there’s a fine line between being an unconventional thinker and being labeled a rebel or outcast. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight some actions that McKinney recommends taking to break out of the mold and think more unconventionally.

Imagine the possibilities. Unconventional thinkers contemplate the what-ifs and don’t get bogged down by the potential roadblocks. They dream about new possibilities and face complex problems that other people might not want to tackle. Being unconventional is an essential element in doing original work or creating original ideas, McKinney says. Every organization can benefit from this.

Do the thing that scares you. Conventional thinkers may not want to take a particular risk or try a certain approach. Unconventional thinkers face their fear. If you’re not willing to try the scary or new things, you make it harder to break out of a rut or get the breakthrough ideas you’re seeking.

Find unconventional mentors. Just as conventional wisdom guides conventional thinkers, unconventional wisdom guides unconventional thinkers, McKinney says. Who can you seek in your professional network who might be an unconventional choice for ideas or encouragement? Identify those people and then reach out.

Participate in unconventional activities. You don’t have to have the same hobbies or pursue the same passions as your peers. Following unconventional passions and pursuing unconventional activities is a great way to learn unconventional lessons and gain unconventional wisdom, McKinney says. You can then apply this wisdom to unconventional problems.

Let go of a fear of failure. It can be frightening trying something new or stepping out in a different direction than everyone else. But if you’re afraid to fail, you end up hiding your unconventional thinking from the world. This is a bad habit that can stifle your creativity.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Unconventional thinkers know their thoughts won’t change the world overnight, McKinney says. They know that making mistakes, failing and losing along the way are all part of their special recipe for unconventional success. Those experiences teach them what works and what doesn’t.

Learning to think more unconventionally may feel uncomfortable at first, but press on. There’s value in trying new things and blazing your own trail. Unconventional thinking can often lead to lightbulb moments, new ideas and valuable innovation.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Phil McKinney is an innovator, thinker, creator, author and speaker. He is the former CTO of HP.