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5 Attributes of an Innovator

People have been juggling for thousands of years. It’s an old craft that has been around—well—I know I’ve seen cartoons of jesters juggling in the courts of kings in the middle ages.

But, I can imagine that juggling has been around for a really long time. In actuality, here’s an Egyptian painting of some jugglers from the wall of a tomb. They’re either juggling or summoning the UFOs that carried the aliens that actually built the pyramids. But I digress. Let’s assume they’re juggling.

I imagine they used stones (or some unknown alien substance). Later, people would start juggling balls and knives and the cliche chainsaw.

And even later, people would start doing something called “contact juggling.”

Why all this history lesson in juggling? Because I think it’s fascinating when:

1. People are really great at what they do—no matter how obscure,


2. People innovate in a field that most people would consider so old that everything that can be done has been done.

Like this guy. He juggles in a way I’ve never seen before. He practices this very old craft in a way that is completely new.

That’s the thing with innovation. Innovation is always possible, even when everyone thinks everything has already been done.

What are the qualities of an innovator?

1. Innovators refuse to believe that all they can do is replicate everyone else. 

We live in a cookie-cutter world. Our systems of education and industry are created to train people to fill spots. We want people to learn the same, act the same, know the same things and learn those things the same way.

That makes for an efficient society. But it’s counter to the concept of innovation and forward movement. Innovators are willing to carve their own path.

2. Innovators refuse to believe that they are only the sum of their experiences. 

It’s often said that we are the sum of our experiences. And certainly, the things we experience throughout our lives contribute to what we believe, what we do and the kinds of people we are.

But an innovator—while often honoring the past—refuses to stop with what they know. Innovators ask the question, “Now what?” There is a continual belief that more is possible and the expectation to encounter it.

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Cole NeSmith is the pastor of City Beautiful Church in Orlando, FL. He also creates interactive art and experiences through his creative collective, Uncover the Color (uncoverthecolor.com). He blogs at colenesmith.com and is on Twitter at @colenesmith