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Tom Kelley Quotes

Thomas Kelley

Tom Kelley quotes: wisdom from IDEO general manager and author, Mr. Tom Kelley.

“Work doesn’t have to feel like ‘Work with a capital W.’  You should be able to feel passion, purpose and meaning in whatever you do.  And that shift in perspective can open up a world of possibilities.”

“Ultimately it comes down to passion.  It’s about doing the things you love, because it’s no secret that if you do something you love, you will be better at it.”

“When you open your mind to the possibility that your capabilities are unlimited and unknown, you already have your running shoes on and are ready to race forward.”

“Effort is the path to mastery, so let’s at least give this a try.”

“Start with a growth mindset, the deep-seated belief that your true potential is still unknown.  That you are not limited to only what you have been able to do before.”

“Linus Pauling famously said, ‘If you want a good idea, start with a lot of ideas.'”

“Being creative doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch or being the sole originator—it’s about adding what you can, about making a creative contribution.”

“That combination of thought and action defines creative confidence: the ability to come up with new ideas and the courage to try them out.”

“It’s hard to be ‘best’ right away, so commit to rapid and continuous improvements.”

“Creative confidence is like a muscle.  It can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience.  Your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice.”

“At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you.”

“Choose creativity.  To be more creative, the first step is to decide you want to make it happen.  Think like a traveler.  Don’t wait around for a spark to magically appear.  Expose yourself to new ideas and experiences.  Engage relaxed attention as flashes of insight often come when your mind is relaxed and not focused on completing a specific task, allowing the mind to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.  Empathize with your end user by coming up with more innovative ideas when you better understand the needs and context of the people you are creating solutions for.  Ask questions, starting with ‘why.’  Reframe challenges by reframing the question—starting from a different point of view can help you get to the essence of a problem.  Build a creative support network as creativity can flow more easily and be more fun when you have others to collaborate with and bounce ideas off.”

“We didn’t know as children that we were creative.  We just knew that it was okay for us to try experiments that sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed.  That we could keep creating, keep tinkering, and trust that something interesting would result if we just stuck with it.”

“The history of discovery is full of creative serendipity.”

“Constraints can spur creativity and incite action, as long as you have the confidence to embrace them.”

“If simplicity were easy, we would see more of it.”

“I’m not gonna be perfect, but I’m gonna try stuff.”

“As Brown writes: ‘When our self-worth isn’t on the line, we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts.’  One way to embrace creativity, Brown says, is to let go of comparison.”

“Find the silver lining in every cloud.  Setbacks aren’t problems, they’re opportunities.”

“In our experience, one of the scariest snakes in the room is the fear of failure, which manifests itself in such ways as fear of being judged, fear of getting started, fear of the unknown.  And while much has been said about fear of failure, it still is the single biggest obstacle people face to creative success.”

“Fail early, fail often, in order to succeed sooner.”

“Relentless practice creates a database of experience that you can draw upon to make more enlightened choices.”

“Noticing that something is broken is an essential prerequisite for coming up with a creative solution to fix.”

“It’s not about just coming up with the one genius idea that solves the problem, but trying and failing at a hundred other solutions before arriving at the best one.”

“I’m quite comfortable with making the odd mistake, if it comes in the pursuit of new opportunities and new ideas.”

“Everything in modern society is the result of a collection of decisions made by someone.  Why shouldn’t that someone be you?”

“So design your space for flexibility instead of inertia and the status quo.”

“Their ultimate ‘strokes of genius’ don’t come about because they succeed more often than other people—they just do more, period.”

“No matter how high you rise in your career, no matter how much expertise you gain, you still need to keep your knowledge and your insights refreshed.  Otherwise, you may develop a false confidence in what you already know that might lead you to the wrong decision.”

Mark Twain said a century ago, ‘It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so.'”

“New opportunities for innovation open up when you start the creative problem-solving process with empathy toward your target audience.”

“Empathy means challenging your preconceived ideas and setting aside your sense of what you think is true in order to learn what actually is true.”

“The first step toward a great answer is to reframe the question.”

“Five guidelines that can improve your next karaoke experience—and your innovation culture: keep your sense of humor; build on the energy of others; minimize hierarchy; value team camaraderie and trust; and defer judgment—at least temporarily.”

“The surprising, compelling mathematics of innovation: if you want more success, you have to be prepared to shrug off more failure.”

“I used to think that to make something happen in a corporation or in the army, you had to be at the higher ranks, to be a general.  But you just need to start a movement.”

“The key is to be quick and dirty, exploring a range of ideas without becoming too invested in only one.”

“Create hot teams, not dull teams.  A hot team is infused with purpose, personality and a great passion about doing great things or projects together.”

“If team members believe that every idea gets fair consideration, and that a meritocracy allows their proposals to be judged across divisional and hierarchical lines, they tend to put all of their energy and their creative talents to work on ideas and proposals for change.  They work harder, persist longer and maintain their urgent optimism when they believe victory is just around the corner.”

“Great groups are more optimistic than realistic.  They believe they can do what no one else has done before.  And the optimists, even when their good cheer is unwarranted, accomplish more.”

“Great groups believe they are on a mission from God.  Beyond mere financial success, they genuinely believe they will make the world a better place.”

“It turns out that creativity isn’t some rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few; it’s a natural part of human thinking and behavior.  In too many of us it gets blocked.  But it can be unblocked.  And unblocking that creative spark can have far-reaching implications for yourself, your organization and your community.”

“But to act, most of us must first overcome the fears that have blocked our creativity in the past.”

“If you want a team of smart, creative people to do extraordinary things, don’t put them in a drab, ordinary space.”

“Design thinking relies on the natural and coachable human ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, and to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional.”

“But as you look at the sweep of your life and start to think of a legacy that survives beyond it, giving others the opportunity to live up to their creative capacity seems like a worthy purpose.”

“What matters most in the end, though, is this: your belief in your capacity to create positive change and the courage to take action.”

Cory Johnson: CEO of a business he has yet to launch. As seen on your mom’s phone. Scaled to 7-figures in seven seconds selling a course on selling courses. Kidding. Watch this.